Identity coming through for Page’s Cobblers

revellAfter a collection of draws that clouded the view of the opening month of this season, the Cobblers are up and running and suddenly the questions that were asked about this new look squad are being answered with back to back home wins that give us a bit of space to breath. Rob Page has begun to stamp his identity on the squad and the results are a hardworking, resilient and gutsy outfit that could well start to make League One stand up and take notice.

The spotlight has well and truly been on the club ever since the League Cup win over West Bromwich Albion and the subsequent draw that saw us paired with some jokers from Old Trafford. The televised game against MK Dons shone the spotlight further ahead of that tie but, more importantly in the long term, gave us a platform on the pitch that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Storming into that three goal lead against Milton Keynes was as unexpected as it was desperately needed with a formerly reserved Town side coming to life. It stunned the visitors and the season was ignited with an ease that made you wonder what all the fuss was about from the end of the transfer window when just one deadline day deal made us collectively mop our brows for the coming months. Nerves were jangling and a sense of “Here we go” crept in when Dons made it 3-1 too easily before the break but I thought we managed the game superbly in the second half and Samir Curruthers’ late strike for 3-2 didn’t do too much damage to morale as that first win of the season was gratefully tied up.

After that came a much needed week of rest – it had been a relentless opening month of games every few days – and Page would have been delighted to get a full midweek to gather his thoughts ahead of Saturday’s encounter with Walsall, where the good work was continued.

The Saddlers were surprisingly toothless after a 2015/16 season that saw them come so close to automatic promotion. Town came out of the blocks with confidence once again and Matty Taylor’s second goal in two games was almost a carbon copy of the one he provided for Alex Revell six days earlier. A few missed chances later, though, and we were left with worries of the early season form that saw us throw away 1-0 leads three times.

This time, though, lessons were learned and the second half saw the Cobblers become the more likely to add to the score and when Scott Laird handled ten minutes from time, Revell was clinical from the spot and that was well and truly that for another huge three points that came about much more comfortably than it could have done.

Revell is the man of the moment and his energy has been absolutely remarkable for a thirty three year old who was thought of as more of a provider of goals when he came in during the summer. He certainly is that but he’s also a warrior that epitomises what Page is trying to do here. Not since the likes of Neil Grayson and Scott McGleish have I seen someone leading the line with this much desire and will to win and that is extremely high praise. Revell is someone who Cobblers fans will quickly grow to love – he’ll get people off their seats, not for particular skill or turn of pace but for the effort and heart he puts in to each and every game.

It’s starting to rub off on the rest of the team as well – Lewin Nyatanga has taken his chance in the absence of Gabriel Zakuani whilst Jak McCourt is doing plenty of unnoticed work in midfield, keeping out player of the year John-Joe O’Toole who was available after suspension yesterday. Matty Taylor could also be set to become this seasons’ Ian Taylor in the veteran midfield role.

All in all we’re really starting to fire and now the challenge is consistency and to take this swashbuckling type of performance on the road with the trip to Chesterfield next week another big test of the now 31 game unbeaten league run (we can start to count these games now we’re winning rather than drawing!)

Rob Page has quietly gone about his job but many more results and performances like these two and the Cobblers may yet start to make a lot more noise in League One than any of us had imagined.

Northampton Town v MK Dons: Match Preview

sixfieldsNorthampton Town v MK Dons

Capital One Cup First Round

Tuesday, August 6th 2013

After the last gasp defeat at York, the home campaign kicks off tonight with a ‘local derby’ against MK Dons in the first round of the Capital One Cup. There was a lot of negativity following the opening day loss but with home form one of the main reasons for the trip to Wembley last season and with the Franchise making their way down the road what better way to get back on track ahead of Newport County’s visit on Saturday in League Two?!

Karl Robinson’s men kicked off their League One campaign on Saturday with a goalless draw at Shrewsbury Town and after missing out on the playoffs last season they will be hoping to get their own season up and running with a cup victory before hosting Crewe at the weekend.

This summer hasn’t seen wholesale changes for the Dons with Southampton’s Ben Reeves and Watford’s Lee Hodson the main signings so far as well as striker Patrick Bamford extending his loan spell from Chelsea until January 2014. And with injuries to a couple of key strikers it may not be a completely first choice side that the Cobblers face this evening. Whether Aidy Boothroyd also looks at his squad players is yet to be seen…

 

Team News…

The Cobblers are still without Clive Platt and Chris Hackett but both are expected to return to training on Thursday. Midfielder Darren Carter serves his one match suspension after seeing red in the York game on Saturday whilst Lewis Hornby is struggling with pains on the right hand side of his body that still haven’t cleared up.

Dons strikers Dean Bowditch and Daniel Powell both sat out of the league opener at the weekend and will both miss out again. Dean Lewington is having a scan on his knee and Karl Robinson may turn to youngsters like Dele Ali and Tom Flanagan for this one.

 

wilbraham

Wilbraham…perennial scorer against the Cobblers

Previous Meetings…

04/09/12: Cobblers 1-0 MK Dons (Johnstone’s Paint Trophy)

In the First Round of last season’s JPT, the Cobblers came past the Dons thanks to a wonder strike from Jake Robinson from distance. Town would eventually reach the Area Quarter Finals of the competition.

10/11/09: MK Dons 3-1 Cobblers (Johnstone’s Paint Trophy)

In this Southern Area Quarter Final tie, Aaron Wilbraham put the hosts in front early on before Sam Baldock struck twice before the break, one a penalty, to give Dons complete control. Steve Guinan pulled one back after the break but it wasn’t enough for the Cobblers.

28/04/09: Cobblers 0-1 MK Dons (League One)

With the Cobblers only one point away from ensuring League One safety, we seemed all set to secure that status in the final home game of the season on a nervy Tuesday night. But the Dons had other ideas and Aaron Wilbraham crashed home the decisive winner meaning that Town had to go to Leeds on the final day of the season still not safe. A 3-0 defeat at Elland Road then condemned us to the drop.

16/08/08: MK Dons 1-0 Cobblers (League One)

Wilbraham was also the only scorer earlier in the season in our first away game as he scored mid-way through the second half to secure early bragging rights for his side.

 

The man in the middle…

Christopher Sarginson takes charge of the cup tie this evening having not been in action over the weekend. Sarginson officiated two Cobblers games last season, both of which ended in 1-1 draws (at Torquay and Morecambe). His last MK Dons game was a 1-1 draw with Preston North End in April 2012.

 

Prediction…

It’s hard to see what sort of team both clubs will put out but it’s fair to say that we need a booster ahead of Saturday so Aidy Boothroyd should have whoever plays fired up for this. Places could be up for grabs still and I think we can bounce back this evening, though it may go all the way. Cobblers on penalties!