Off the bottom!

Hackett...match winner

Hackett…match winner

Northampton Town 2-1 Southend United

League Two

Tuesday, February 25th 2014

It’s not the giant leap towards safety we would have hoped for based on some of the other results in League Two last night but the Cobblers’ third win in four games means that we’ve taken the first small step in getting out of the bottom two – we’re off the bottom and building momentum fast. The fact that we saw off a highly professional, competitive and dangerous Southend United side at Sixfields last night makes the three points that bit more impressive and, though the gap between ourselves and safety remains at five points, the psychological meaning of back to back wins will go a long way.

This one, following up Saturday’s 2-0 success over Hartlepool United, was born out of some tactical changes from the increasingly effective Chris Wilder and his management team that are starting to really turn things around. Mathias Doumbe had headed in his second in as many games from another Chris Hackett assist before Southend quickly equalised through Michael Timlin dubiously racing past the offside trap to beat Matt Duke and Southend could easily have gone on to lead before half time. Zander Diamonds’ block on Barry Corr and Corr’s subsequent header wide from a corner meant that Wilder would have been happy to go in at 1-1 at half time.

But shortly after the restart and he started to tinker with Alan Connell and Ian Morris replacing John Marquis and Brennan Dickenson. Connell had an almost immediate impact with his pass releasing Emile Sinclair who in turn played in Hackett for his first goal of the season. The Cobblers had the lead again and hanging on was absolutely vital with the likes of Bury, Portsmouth and Wycombe all winning their games.

Hackett had one chalked off a few minutes after his first goal before an almighty scare for Town as Anthony Straker was fouled seemingly in the area by Leon McSweeney but only a free kick was given by referee Mr Boyeson. The decision, and Southend substitute Freddy Eastwood’s blast of the free kick into the wall, meant that we could breathe again and hold out we did for a first back to back winning sequence of the season.

Massive relief and celebration at the final whistle, then, with Bristol Rovers coming up on Saturday at Sixfields. While results were poor elsewhere last night, the good thing about playing Rovers is that they’re still in touching distance of us and a third straight victory for the Cobblers would drag the Gas right back into trouble and to within three points no matter what else happens to the sides in between us Mansfield, Wycombe and Accrington.

The fact that tricky away games at Scunthorpe and Exeter follow this Saturday’s latest bout of Sixfields encounters makes it crucial that we continue the upwards curve against John Ward’s side. The confidence, organisation and integration of new players seems to be really coming together now and we now have to hope and pray that it continues for the final fourteen games of the campaign.

Alan Connell is someone who is surely pushing for a starting role against Rovers – whenever he’s played he seems to create chances and is a link between the midfield and strikers that we’ve lacked all season. The good thing about his starts from the bench is that he’ll be going all out to keep his place when he does start again. The likes of Chris Hackett and even Darren Carter are showing signs of real improvement as well and we actually look dangerous when we come forward. At the other end, Matt Duke appears to be over his spate of flappy fever while Zander Diamonds’ arrival has be fantastic.

We certainly can’t afford to take our foot off the gas but if we are going down, we’re at least going down fighting!

More away day blues…

Eastwood...second goal

Eastwood…second goal

Southend United 2-0 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, August 17th 2013

The pattern has started again. Win at home, lose away…the staple diet of the Cobblers in 2013 goes on after a second trip in a row ended with Town finishing a game with ten men and on the end of a defeat. Last year’s jaunt to Southend ended with us benefiting from Bilel Mohsni’s early bath but this time around it was the hosts who would have that bit of extra space on the pitch after Chris Hackett’s return ended in two mistimed challenges and a red card within half an hour.

There had already been plenty of drama at Roots Hall and it looked to be going swimmingly early on as the Cobblers were awarded a penalty when Joe Widdowson was brought down. Early top scorer Roy O’Donovan stepped up at the same place where he netted a few months ago and you would be fancied him to convert for his third of the season but Daniel Bentley in the Shrimpers goal got to it and from there you had the sense that his side had the impetus.

Hackett, making a surprise start after recovering from injury, replaced Ian Morris from the start (himself a victim of a late setback before the game) but his comeback lasted just twenty two minutes as two bookable offenses saw him leave us with ten men for the second away game in succession. It was a huge blow as we had seemed to settle well in the early going and were causing the hosts a fair few problems.

Lee Collins gave us brief hope when his header was cleared off the line but as soon as the home side took the lead through Anthony Straker’s close range finish it was a long road back that we never really looked like getting on to.

The second goal, through Eastwood himself, killed off any real hope of a fight back with half an hour to go and it could well have been more if it hadn’t been for the once again excellent Matt Duke in the Cobblers goal. That’s three out of four games where Duke has prevented us from losing outright or losing by more than we did and he’s looking like one of the early success stories of a stumbling start.

It’s all too easy to now say that we’re at home next week so it’ll all be OK but we know that football doesn’t work like that. We will lose games at Sixfields and so must get it right on the road. It starts with scrambling out single points and as ugly as that might be it’s essential that we can grind out results on the road. We can’t keep replying on home form to keep us afloat and that will only get us so far.

Keeping all eleven men on the pitch would be the best way to start…

Southend United v Northampton Town: Match Preview

roots hallSouthend United v Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, August 17th 2013

As thousands of fans around the county herald the ‘start of the season’ this weekend as the Premier League kicks off, the Cobblers and Southend head into their third round of league games with the 2013/14 campaign already seeming like it’s in full swing. The Shrimpers have come through a summer transfer embargo with Phil Brown meticulously putting together a squad to try and better last season’s eleventh place finish.

This is Brown’s first full season in charge having only taken over at the end of March and he’s started brightly by collecting six points from the opening two games, both wins coming with a 1-0 score line against Plymouth and Hartlepool. That means they’re one of only four teams with maximum points from the opening couple of fixtures with Oxford, Fleetwood and Chesterfield the others with the total haul.

It’s never an easy proposition to make a trip to Roots Hall and we’ve had many a problem there over the years but Kelvin Langmead’s injury time winner for Town last season, against a Blues side who had lost the enigmatic Bilel Mohsni earlier in the game for a high kick on Chris Hackett, gives us hope that we can start to change that bleak history.

With our own season up and running on the home front, we have to try and get something from this one so that the ghosts of last season’s away form can start to be put to bed as well.

 

Hackett...back in contention

Hackett…back in contention

Team News…

Southend striker Barry Corr was sent off during last weekend’s win at Hartlepool but the red card has since been rescinded so he’s now available to play on Saturday. Kevan Hurst is back in training and could be involved whilst Adam Thompson is pushing for a place in the starting eleven after joining from Watford last week. Julian Bennett had an operation on a knee injury this week and now begins his rehab in a long term bid to return to action.

The Cobblers welcome Clive Platt and Chris Hackett back into the squad after both missed the opening three games of the season through injury. Matt Heath pulled out of the Newport game with a calf strain picked up in the warm up so he will be assessed before the weekend. Lewis Hornby is still out with a back problem while Kelvin Langmead and Alex Nicholls are both long term absentees.

 

Previous Six Meetings…

16/02/13: Southend 1-2 Cobblers (League Two)

Roy O’ Donovan gave the Cobblers an early lead in the last meeting between the sides before Bilel Mohsni, making his first Shrimpers appearance in nine months, was sent off for a high challenge on Chris Hackett. The ten men equalised midway through the second half through Matty Lund’s header but Kelvin Langmead headed a stoppage time winner for a rare away win for Town.

25/08/12: Cobblers 3-3 Southend (League Two)

In the second home game of this season, there were no goals at half time but the second half provided a superb encounter. Britt Assombalonga opened the scoring just before the hour mark but Bayo Akinfenwa replied minutes later. Kane Ferdinand put the visitors back in front but the Cobblers again struck back, this time through David Artell before Alex Nicholls looked to have won the game with four minutes to go. Southend weren’t done, though, and equalised in stoppage time thanks to Ryan Cresswell’s scrambled effort.

14/01/12: Cobblers 2-5 Southend (League Two)

With Aidy Boothroyd still trying to shape his side together having joined the Cobblers a few weeks earlier, Southend came to town and hit us for five. John Johnson put Town in front before Dave Martin equalised five minutes before the break. Said Berahino scored right on the brink of half time but the Shrimpers hit back with four second half goals thanks to braces from Liam Dickinson and Bilel Mohsni.

03/09/11: Southend 2-2 Cobblers (League Two)

Earlier that season the Cobblers earned a good point at Roots Hall thanks to a great fight back that saw Bayo Akinfenwa and Arron Davies equalise Bilel Mohsni and Ryan Hall’s goals within five second half minutes down in Essex.

26/02/11: Southend 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)

In a tight match at Roots Hall, the Cobblers took the lead through John Johnson before Barry Corr equalised minutes later. This was to be the final of six draws in a row in early 2011 and would end up being Ian Sampson’s final away game in charge.

11/09/10: Cobblers 2-1 Southend (League Two)

The Cobblers won for the first time in the league in the 2010/11 season as Anthony Grant’s 57thminute strike was cancelled out by Abdul Osman. Andy Holt netted the winner with fifteen minutes to go and we were finally up and running in the League Two campaign.

 

The man in the middle…

Taking charge at Roots Hall is Andy Davies who refereed two Cobblers games last season, both of which ended in 3-2 defeats – at Plymouth and at home to Cheltenham. He also officiated two Southend victories, a 2-1 win against AFC Wimbledon in the JPT and a 4-1 hammering of Torquay United at Plainmoor.

 

Prediction…

Before last season’s four point haul from Southend, they had been tough nuts to crack and with six points to their name already with two clean sheets it looks no different this time. If we can play to our strengths and not get caught up on trying to defend for a point then we can get something I think. I can’t see us repeating last season’s win but reckon we can get a score draw. 2-2

 

From the opposition…

To see the thoughts of Southend United fan Jamie Forsyth, check out the Fan Feature from Thursday.

Fan Feature: Southend United

southendThe Cobblers head to Southend on Saturday looking to repeat a 2-1 win at Roots Hall last season that set us up nicely for the final run-in. It was a rare away victory for Town against the ten man Shrimpers but it’s set to be a tough outing this time out with the hosts winning both of their opening two games.

Southend United fan, and editor for the popular All At Sea Fanzine website, Jamie Forsyth joins us for this week’s Fan Feature and says that despite a trip to Wembley for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final last season was generally a disappointment:

“I think what we all wanted was promotion from this division,” he says, “particularly as we came so close the season before. The JPT was a major bonus, but the mood was generally one of disappointment. This was exacerbated by the fact our home form, bread and butter as far as the supporters are concerned, was truly abysmal with just six league triumphs all season, and Paul Sturrock cruelly paid for it with his job just two weeks from the final he led us to.”

The mood at Roots Hall wasn’t helped by a transfer embargo placed on the club over the summer and it’s been a case of treading carefully in the market for boss Phil Brown when he did get to bring in players. Jamie says:

“We’ve been under a transfer embargo due to late payment of debts (we did pay them in the end, apparently) throughout the close season, meaning Phil Brown had space for up to 20 under football league rules. This meant he has had to be very careful about who he has brought in, and understandably it meant we’ve missed out on a couple. New signing Julian Bennett had played less than a half before he damaged his cruciate ligament. He was to replace Ryan Cresswell, who along with Gavin Tomlin, Britt Assombalonga and Sean Clohessy, was the notable departure.”

Former Hull City boss Brown appears to have brought a new style to table since replacing Paul Sturrock in March and Jamie says that it’s something that supporters have enjoyed:

“The style of passing football under Brown is different to Sturrock’s more direct approach and the supporters have warmed to it. But a lack of guile is likely to cost us, and while our first choice front two undoubtedly have goals in them, they are somewhat injury prone. Brown had a bad start but has had a chance now to put his own stamp on the team. Supporters are positive about the way this season has started, and 7,000 were there for the opening game, a marked improvement.”

And finally, a score prediction from our Shrimpers enthusiast?

It’ll be a tight game. Cobblers are a good side with a significantly more generous budget than we have. However, we do have the best goal scoring target man in the division available again (Barry Corr) after his absurd red card was rescinded, so we’ll scrape a draw. 1-1.

You can check out all the latest opinion and news at the excellent All At Sea Fanzine here and follow @AllAtSeaFanzine if you’re a Twitter user.

Southend United links:

Official Website: http://www.southendunited.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SouthendUnitedFC

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SUFCRootsHall

Other Forums and Blogs: http://www.shrimperzone.com

Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southend_United_F.C.

Echo News: http://www.echo-news.co.uk/sport/blues/

BBC Page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/teams/southend-united

Only boldness will solve away day problem

roots hallThis season has started off pretty much how the last one ended. A scrappy away defeat and a decent home win – a pattern that has been the tone of things since the turn of the year. The Cobblers undoubtedly missed out on automatic promotion last season because of the away record that was second worst in the entire league and this time around we must lay those problems to bed if we’re to sustain a challenge.

So how do we solve our biggest dilemma in the away day hoodoo? It’s a headache for us all that despite a well ground out 3-1 win over Newport that the tactics of Aidy Boothroyd will change as soon as we board any coach away from Sixfields. In a way it’s fair enough and you regularly see the best of teams pack out midfields away from home in the hunt to take something out of the game. But to get the absolute maximum it’s going to take some bravery and adjustment from the Cobblers boss.

Boldness is the word I would use. In League Two it’s kind of expected that an away team will shut up shop and wait for the hosts to show their hand first. But what Newport did so well on Saturday before Town settled was that they just went for the juggler straight away as if they were the ones playing at home. We could easily have been three down in the opening fifteen minutes had it not been for Matt Duke absolute heroics in goal and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one panicking about a long afternoon in the Sixfields sun.

When we did get going we showed that our attacking prowess was more technically sound than last season. Yes, there were a few direct balls forward but it was also less hoof and hope and more straight to a man. So we can do it and now need to take the bold step of ‘doing a Newport’ to Southend but actually succeeding in putting the ball in the net.

It’s not to say that we become reckless and I see the merits in a 4-5-1 formation still but there’s still room for that to be an attacking formation perhaps with Roy O’Donovan switching to the left of the attacking midfield and cutting in to support the excellent Jacob Blyth when needed. The difference between Blyth and Clive Platt is that Blyth can work hard with the best of them and to say he freshened up the front line on Saturday is the understatement of the season so far.

Southend is always a tough trip and with the Shrimpers collecting maximum points from their opening two games (two 1-0 victories) it’s looking that bit more difficult this time around. But if Town can be bold and take the bull by the horns it could be a catalyst for a change of immense importance for the coming season.

Captain Marvel wins it to send Town back into playoff places

Langmead...dramatic winner against ten man Shrimpers

Langmead…dramatic winner against ten man Shrimpers

Southend United 1-2 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, February 16th 2013

Ah, the fickle nature of football! I was preparing a blog slating the defensive tactics of Aidy Boothroyd after the Cobblers looked like they had dropped two points and were on the way to dropping all three against ten men having sat back on a 1-0 lead. I was expecting to be writing a frustrated piece on how we had let a major chance pass us by but now I sit here once again rethinking a season that takes another twist and turn almost every week.

The reason for this rejig was Kelvin Langmead’s latest stoppage time winner that puts Town back in the League Two playoff places in what could turn out to be one of the biggest moments of the season when we look back at it in May.

Other subtexts meant that this game was written in three distinct acts, though.

Act One began with the Cobblers taking an early lead through Roy O’Donovan as the former Coventry man scored his first for the club – getting on the end of a Clive Platt flick – and the returning hero/villain Bilel Moshni making an unexpected return to the Southend side as a defensive crisis meant that the much maligned Frenchman was hauled back into the starting line-up despite previously refusing to train with his club mates. Moshni’s future looked to be anywhere but at Roots Hall but such was the need for defensive cover it seems Paul Sturrock had no choice but to bring him back in. His impact, though, saw Sturrock back to square one as he robbed his side of another option by producing a dangerously high challenge on Chris Hackett that saw him sent off and giving his side an uphill battle.

Act Two started after half-time as Town decided to take the defensive stance that was inviting the Shrimpers on slowly but surely. Any Cobblers fan could have written the script and sure enough Matthew Lund, on loan from Stoke, flicked the ball on and Kelvin Langmead looked to have put into his own net for 1-1. From then, it looked as if the ten men would be the ones to win if either side were going to.

But, gloriously, Act Three ended with a final twist and saw a reshuffle as Bayo, starting from the bench, entered the fray and Boothroyd’s men changed formation with a view to regaining control. There were one or two hairy moments with Freddy Eastwood curling a free kick onto the top of the net and a couple of scary goal mouth scrambles meaning it was heart in mouth stuff for anyone of the Cobblers persuasion. Langmead, having stayed strong at one end, was ready to put things right at the other and, as the game reached time added on, he powered the ball home from a corner to send the just under 500 travelling fans wild and all those at home jumping around their living rooms.

Langmead, just under a year ago, had won a game at Burton in completely different circumstances but no less dramatically and also netted a stoppage time leveller at Torquay earlier this season. The man once thought to be the weak link of the Cobblers squad is now well on course to becoming Player of the Year in an extraordinary turning around of an individual.

As for his team, it’s the away win they’ve desired by hook or by crook and we’re up to seventh again ahead of the trip to Wimbledon on Tuesday night. The league’s bottom club will be buoyed by a victory over Bradford City today but we need to pick up a result there to hammer this one home and entice more support to what could be a massively popular home game against Plymouth Argyle next weekend.

Time to have a breather for a couple of days before that one and to revel in an actual victory away from home against one of our promotion rivals!

Southend United v Northampton Town: Match Preview

roots hallSouthend United v Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, February 16th 2013

As the Cobblers look for a cure for the away day blues, one of the last places that we want to go to is Roots Hall to take on Southend United. However, it’s crunch time for a bid for Aidy Boothroyd’s men to reach the playoffs and any more misery on the road is likely to put a huge dent in any plans for a longer season.

After working hard to get to this point over the last couple of months it’s going to be an even harder job to stick around in the chasing pack, meaning that games like this against fellow contenders become that bit more important. Southend sit just a place behind Town in ninth place and will be looking to bounce back from defeat on Tuesday night.

Late rally not enough for Shrimpers…

The Cobblers’ hosts on Saturday were beaten 2-1 at home by Cheltenham Town on Tuesday night and failed in a bid to jump back into the top seven. Marlon Pack’s earlier penalty was added to by Paul Benson’s strike before the break and despite a late Ben Reeves goal, Southend were beaten and will now have to get back to winning ways on Saturday if they are to overtake us and move into a playoff place again.

Mayor signs on short term loan…

Southend completed the signing of Sheffield Wednesday winger Danny Mayor this week on an initial 28 day loan deal with the 22-year-old joining with a view to staying until the end of the season. Mayor signed in time to play for 80 minutes against Cheltenham on Tuesday night and will be back in contention again against the Cobblers.

 

Laird...former Cobblers loanee

Laird…former Cobblers loanee

Club Links…

Cobblers midfielder Luke Guttridge was with Southend from 2005 until 2007, making over fifty appearances for the Shrimpers and scoring five times before moving on to Leyton Orient.

Southend midfielder Marc Laird played six times during a loan spell with the Cobblers in 2007.

 

Team News…

Southend are without defender Ryan Cresswell who is serving a three match ban following a red card against Accrington Stanley last weekend. Meanwhile, Chris Barker, Michael Timlin, Mark Phillips, Marc Laird, Gavin Tomlin and Caolan Lavery are all missing and Kevan Hurst is doubtful because of illness.

Aidy Boothroyd has hinted that Ray O’ Donovan could be handed his second start whilst John Johnson is back in contention after recovering from knee surgery.

 

Last Six Meetings…

25/08/12: Cobblers 3-3 Southend (League Two)

In the second home game of this season, there were no goals at half time but the second half provided a superb encounter. Britt Assombalonga opened the scoring just before the hour mark but Bayo Akinfenwa replied minutes later. Kane Ferdinand put the visitors back in front but the Cobblers again struck back, this time through David Artell before Alex Nicholls looked to have won the game with four minutes to go. Southend weren’t done, though, and equalised in stoppage time thanks to Ryan Cresswell’s scrambled effort.

14/01/12: Cobblers 2-5 Southend (League Two)

With Aidy Boothroyd still trying to shape his side together having joined the Cobblers a few weeks earlier, Southend came to town and hit us for five. John Johnson put Town in front before Dave Martin equalised five minutes before the break. Said Berahino scored right on the brink of half time but the Shrimpers hit back with four second half goals thanks to braces from Liam Dickinson and Bilel Mohsni.

03/09/11: Southend 2-2 Cobblers (League Two)

Earlier that season the Cobblers earned a good point at Roots Hall thanks to a great fight back that saw Bayo Akinfenwa and Arron Davies equalise Bilel Mohsni and Ryan Hall’s goals within five second half minutes down in Essex.

26/02/11: Southend 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)

In a tight match at Roots Hall, the Cobblers took the lead through John Johnson before Barry Corr equalised minutes later. This was to be the final of six draws in a row in early 2011 and would end up being Ian Sampson’s final away game in charge.

11/09/10: Cobblers 2-1 Southend (League Two)

The Cobblers won for the first time in the league in the 2010/11 season as Anthony Grant’s 57thminute strike was cancelled out by Abdul Osman. Andy Holt netted the winner with fifteen minutes to go and we were finally up and running in the League Two campaign.

13/04/09: Cobblers 2-3 Southend (League Two)

A Bank Holiday encounter went the way of the Shrimpers as Jean-Francois Christophe put the visitors in front in the first half. The second half came to life after the break though as Bayo Akinfenwa levelled and Theo Robinson put Southend back into the lead. Lee Barnard’s goal a few minutes later extended the lead and Aleksandar Prijovic’s strike was only a consolation for the Cobblers late on.

 

The Man in the middle…

Graham Scott is the referee for this one at Roots Hall. Scott was in charge of the Cobblers’ 1-0 home defeat against Bradford City back in October and has shown 75 yellow cards and 4 reds so far this season.

 

Prediction…

We really do need to start performing and getting results away from home and this week sees us play back to back away games so it would be handy to get something here ahead of a trip to AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night. Southend will be tough to beat as always but if we can frustrate the home fans for long enough we could come away with a point. 1-1

Six goal thriller as Southend ruin it again!

Nicholls…on the score sheet again

Northampton Town 3-3 Southend United

League Two

Saturday, August 25th 2012

After the drama on Tuesday night, it was back to Sixfields this afternoon and with the optimism flowing around the ground there was always likely to be a sting waiting in the tail of the Shrimpers, who are often a side who come again to spoil our fun every now and then.

Southend are perennial nuisances for the Cobblers and tore us apart here last season in a 5-2 thrashing that took the wind out of Aidy Boothroyd’s first positive run with his new side. And though they didn’t completely ruin our start to the season, their last second equaliser in front of the North Stand deflated most inside Sixfields enough for it to feel like a defeat.

The Cobblers had twice come from behind and were leading for the first time in the game, 3-2, when the killer blow struck deep into stoppage time. It was the culmination of a frustrating afternoon that shone a torch on defensive lapses that weren’t so apparent on Tuesday night. That, as Boothroyd admitted, could be a good thing in the long term as he plots his way through League Two.

The visitors were far from full strength and given their gutsy show won’t be far off the pace one big front players like Barry Corr and Freddy Eastwood return to their line-up.

After a disappointing first half where neither side got going or created much of note, barring a Chris Hackett run and cross that Alex Nicholls connected with but diverted wide, Southend took the lead following a mistake from David Artell on the far side. Britt Assombalonga nipped in and finished well to put his side in front.
Town needed some inspiration and no man epitomises that word more that Bayo Akinfenwa. The big man departed the bench, replacing Luke Guttridge, and immediately made his impact. After a flick on from Clive Platt in the area, Bayo turned and fired the ball into the net and suddenly there was a new belief in the Cobblers side.

As we streamed forward, gaps were exposed at the other end and Southend carved out a second goal with Kane Ferdinand stroking home and we had a job on once again.

Just second later, though, and Chris Hackett’s free kick was only parried away by Southend keeper Cameron Belford and Artell was on hand to power the ball home. Game on again!

It was anyone’s game from then on in and you could see either side snatching it after that flood of goals. It was the Cobblers who were to go in front for the first time with six minutes to go, though, as a short corner was whipped in, re-delivered by Kelvin Langmead and headed in by Alex Nicholls for his third goal in three home games this season.
With Town on the brink of another unlikely victory, Southend ruined it again. In the past it’s been Adam Barrett scoring winners or equalisers against us but this time it was left to a lookalike in the form of Ryan Cresswell. Cresswell was pushed up front late on by Paul Sturrock and the move had the desired effect as he scrambled in the killer equaliser after four minutes of stoppage time.

It’s hard to take on the face of it but we need to stay realistic and patient. The fine lines that divide football is so thin and had we won 3-2, something that could easily have happened, we would have all been jumping around again. As it is, I heard moans and groans as I left Sixfields and it felt like a Sixfields sized bubble had been burst.
Aidy is doing a good job though from what I’ve seen in these two games. It’s never going to please anyone but five points from three games is a decent start given our expectations this season. The ‘hoof ball’ tactics that people keep shouting at is part and parcel of the Boothroyd approach and I’m afraid for those purists it’s something you will have to get used to. No, it’s not pretty but it’s got results so far and has visibly made us a lot harder to beat. With a team in transition that’s the first steps in my eyes. We can start trying to play once we’ve established a firm base and that’s what is being formed as we speak.

After the game, Bayo, speaking to Radio Northampton had a very ‘what will be, will be’ attitude when questioned on his future. To me, this was another game that proved his worth both on and off the pitch. The man is a gentleman, a team player and someone who gives us something that no-one else in most League Two squads gives anyone else. Selling him would be a big mistake in my opinion. You feel lifted whenever he’s on the pitch and know that a goal might be around the corner. You feel like you know him and that’s a rare thing in a player these days. I can think of no-one else who would come close to replacing the big man and I really hope that he is still a Cobbler at this time next week once the transfer window has past.

Elsewhere, it was a bit of an odd performance and very bitty. The midfield seems odd to me and the only part of the team that doesn’t seem to be functioning to its full potential. Chris Hackett is crying out to be an out and out winger whilst Luke Guttridge is far more effective coming forward than when he holds himself back.
Still, two draws, a win and a cup upset isn’t a bad way to start is it?

That’s the end of my mini break back in Northampton but I’m consoling myself with the fact that I can see us live this Thursday on Sky against Wolves. Two days later we make the long trip to Plymouth so I expect a bit of a shake up to the starting line-up for the cup game (most likely from both sides). It’s an awkward time coming right before a long away trip but we can’t argue with the television revenue and the chance to make it through another round.
I know which I’d rather win as a Cobblers fan (ten points for correctly guessing the game at Home Park) and if we can come away with three points there I would be mightily impressed and would even be calling this drama filled opening month of the season a, wait for it, success!

Northampton Town v Southend United: Match Preview

Northampton Town v Southend United

League Two

Saturday, August 25th 2012

The Cobblers have made a terrific start to this season –something that we’ve not had the luxury to say over the last few years – and have actually given fans some sense of, wait for it, optimism ahead of the weekend visit of Southend. A strange phenomenon this may be but having disposed of Cardiff City, held Rochdale at Spotland and beaten Steve Evan’s Rotherham on Tuesday night as well as putting in three real tough shifts it’s fair to say that this has been the most positive start to a season for many a year.

True, it was only a year ago that we were lauding over a four point league haul as well as dumping Ipswich out of the cup but this season the performances after three games have been a massive step up and are the reason for a sunnier outlook. We lost the next five games last season following that similar start so we must be wary as we come up against a Southend side who, despite having a shaky start themselves, are a real threat and who won 5-2 at Sixfields back in January.

Summer departures…

As well as the enigmatic Bilel Mohsni who has made his position very clear by swanning off to France recently, the Shrimpers saw a couple of important players depart this summer. Anthony Grant joined League One Stevenage for an undisclosed fee while the future of star man Ryan Hall is still in considerable doubt with Championship clubs interested in the midfielder. Hall started on the bench on Tuesday night at Oxford.

The return of Freddy…

There was also big news coming through the Roots Hall door in the opposite direction over the summer with Freddy Eastwood completing a return to the club that made him famous. Eastwood was prolific in his first spell with United with an average of a goal every two games before moving on to Wolves in 2007. After a difficult first season, he moved to Coventry before signing on loan for the Shrimpers last season, scoring twice. Eastwood made the move permanent a month ago.

Three defeats in three…

The thing that makes Southend dangerous, in my eyes, is that they’ve lost the last three games. It sounds silly but that’s usually my logic when it comes to Cobblers law. The Shrimpers will take no real disappointment from the first of the three reverses so far – 4-0 at Peterborough in the Capital One Cup – but were beaten by Accrington at home on the opening day before Tuesday night’s 2-0 loss at Oxford.

Guttridge…has played for both

Club Links…

Cobblers midfielder Luke Guttridge was with Southend from 2005 until 2007, making over fifty appearances for the Shrimpers and scoring five times before moving on to Leyton Orient.

Team News…

The Cobblers will likely stick with the successful starting line-up from Tuesday night’s victory over Rotherham with no new injury concerns going into the weekend.

Southend will have to do without Michael Timlin after he was sent off after half an hour of Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat at Oxford. Meanwhile, Freddy Eastwood and Barry Corr are likely to sit out with on loan Watford youngster Britt Assombalonga set to start up front again.

Last Six Meetings…

14/01/12: Cobblers 2-5 Southend (League Two)

With Aidy Boothroyd still trying to shape his side together having joined the Cobblers a few weeks earlier, Southend came to town and hit us for five. John Johnson put Town in front before Dave Martin equalised five minutes before the break. Said Berahino scored right on the brink of half time but the Shrimpers hit back with four second half goals thanks to braces from Liam Dickinson and Bilel Mohsni.

03/09/11: Southend 2-2 Cobblers (League Two)

Earlier that season the Cobblers earned a good point at Roots Hall thanks to an extraordinary fight back that saw Bayo Akinfenwa and Arron Davies equalise Bilel Mohsni and Ryan Hall’s goals within five second half minutes down in Essex.

26/02/11: Southend 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)

In a tight match at Roots Hall, the Cobblers took the lead through John Johnson before Barry Corr equalised minutes later. This was to be the final of six draws in a row in early 2011 and would end up being Ian Sampson’s final away game in charge.

11/09/10: Cobblers 2-1 Southend (League Two)

The Cobblers won for the first time in the league in the 2010/11 season as Anthony Grant’s 57thminute strike was cancelled out by Abdul Osman. Andy Holt netted the winner with fifteen minutes to go and we were finally up and running in the League Two campaign.

13/04/09: Cobblers 2-3 Southend (League Two)

A Bank Holiday encounter went the way of the Shrimpers as Jean-Francois Christophe put the visitors in front in the first half. The second half came to life after the break though as Bayo Akinfenwa levelled and Theo Robinson put Southend back into the lead. Lee Barnard’s goal a few minutes later extended the lead and Aleksandar Prijovic’s strike was only a consolation for the Cobblers late on.

26/12/08: Southend 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)

A Boxing day match at Roots Hall ended with Southend victorious thanks to Junior Stanislas’ winner in stoppage time. That was after Abdul Osman had been sent off for the Cobblers with fifteen minutes to go but we couldn’t quite hold out for a point.

The Man in the Middle…

Stephen Martin takes charge on Saturday fresh from sending off Gillingham’s Tom Flanagan at Wycombe. Martin was promoted from non-league ranks at the end of last season and referees a Cobblers game for the first time.

Prediction…

I’m strangely confident after witnessing the Rotherham game first hand and with Southend struggling to get going it could be a good chance to garner three points against one of the better sides in the division. It’ll no doubt be tough but I’m going for a 2-1 Cobblers win.