You often see young footballers cast in the role as nomads, aimlessly wandering around the lower leagues on loan from top flight or Championship clubs, never truly finding a home. Players can age before you, or indeed they, know it as year on year they’re never quite ‘ready’ to be thrust into a first team at the highest levels.
Lawson D’Ath is a man who could well have been typecast into that very role after a big fat zero appearances for the club he grew up with, Reading, left him frustrated and eventually the farming out began with loan spells at Yeovil Town (14 appearances), Cheltenham Town (2), Exeter City (8) and Dagenham and Redbridge (a heftier, by comparison, 21). All this and the midfielder turned striker is still only 21 so when the almost inevitable call came from Reading this summer that he was being released it must have come with some trepidation.
With an even greater clamour for contracts than ever before in the weeks leading up to the season, and with a CV that only included brief stints here and there it was likely an unsettling time. But then came the call from Chris Wilder and a lifeline was handed out albeit with a short term contract. From Wilder’s side you can completely understand – why take that big a punt on a relatively unproven player when we can have a look at him for a while before deciding on his fate? For the player, it was do or die and after two months of taking every chance he got he’s now earned the thing he’s surely always been coveting – a longer contract at a club where he knows he’ll get games.
D’Ath impressed Wilder enough that for the last two matches he’s been deployed up front with Marc Richards from the start, scoring his fourth goal of the season in the drubbing of Hartlepool United a week ago. Keeping out other higher profile options like Ivan Toney and John-Joe O’ Toole says a lot about the speed in which he’s grabbed an opportunity. His double at Wolves was doubly surprising given the standard of opposition and the stage but he’s shown he’s much more than a one trick pony by following it up with strikes at Newport and against Hartlepool.
Originally signed until January, this new deal takes D’Ath all the way to 2016 and he’s at a young enough age to fully realise his potential here. If what we’ve seen so far is a player unsettled and wary that he might be moving on again soon then there could well be an awful lot more to come now he’s found his first proper home since coming out of a youth team environment.
His versatility, energy and eye for goal gives this Cobblers squad something different and long may his development continue!