Reality Check…

Ian-Henderson-Rochdale_3003588

Northampton Town 0-3 Rochdale

League Two

Tuesday, March 18th 2014

If the Cobblers were still in their honeymoon period of settling in and getting some big results under Chris Wilder before Tuesday night then we’re well and truly home and have started to unpack the dirty laundry now. Rochdale, intent on going top of League Two, came with no fear and from the first few minutes never looked back. Of course losing against a side vying for automatic promotion was nothing to really worry about on the face of it but the performance, flat and bereft of any urgency, definitely was.

Town were hoping to finally close the gap to zero points on Exeter just above them but from the moment ex Cobbler Ian Henderson put the visitors in front we never really looked like denting anything apart from adding more divots to the Sixfields pitch. Henderson scored a big fat zero goals in twenty six appearances for Town during his time here but has now notched nine this season for ‘Dale – two of those against us. This one coming from a well-placed left footed effort after he got on the end of a free kick and we were well up against it.

Fleeting efforts from the Cobblers to get forward were in vain and though Rochdale didn’t produce any clearer cut chances either you always felt like they had the better attacking prowess. Zander Diamond’s half time exit with an abdomen injury didn’t help matters with the defender taken off as a precaution ahead of more busy weeks of football in the coming weeks.

His replacement, Brennan Dickenson, had a shot saved early in the second half but Rochdale doubled their lead ten minutes into the second half when Matthew Lund headed in. There was brief hope handed to the Cobblers seconds later when Lund was sent off for a second bookable offence for ‘over celebrating’ (a rule I think is utterly ridiculous by the way) but it was still a massive ask.

The decision to reduce ‘Dale to ten man didn’t have much effect and it was they who found the extra gear when Joe Bunney raced through and sealed the victory with a very well taken shot from outside the area to beat Matt Duke to his left.

From then it was a case of just waiting for full time and hoping that no further damage would be done to an already flagging goal difference. To say that when playing against ten men shows how poor we were but full credit to Rochdale for producing a result and performance themselves to take them one step closer to League One.

Town were booed off and it all seemed like a big step back after all of the hard work of the last few weeks. One thing this should do is remind the players that they’ve still got plenty to do and should say to all supporters that we’re not just going to glide up the table from here on in. We’ve got to regroup and go again and perhaps an away game is no bad thing coming this weekend at Morecambe who themselves suffered a hammering on Tuesday night at one of our relegation rivals Accrington Stanley.

There’s simply no room for this sort of performance in the run in – we know that the group now put in place by Wilder do have something about them and now it’s about getting that fight and determination back before it’s too late.

That goes for all of us.

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