Another defeat, this time at Torquay United, kept the Cobblers rooted to the bottom of the football league in a dire affair at Plainmoor.
I have left it late this week, but there really is not much to write about following what some footballing experts (me…) are calling the dullest game in the history of football. Northampton lined up for this one somewhat defensively, with just Saido Berahino ploughing a lonely furrow up top on his own. Akinfenwa didn’t do enough in the previous game to retain his spot, and Akwari Asante returned to parent club Birmingham despite a pretty successful spell at Sixfields.
There were a couple of returning players for the Cobblers, and in differing circumstances. Byron Webster returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines to partner Kelvin Langmead at centre-back, with Boothroyd hoping to plug the gaping holes that have been obvious throughout the current campaign. The other man was midfield genius Luke Guttridge, who returns for his second stint at the club after his release from Aldershot.
The game itself as mentioned earlier was beyond poor; the first half had nothing really of note. Bobby Olejnik made a decent early stop to deny Berahino but the Cobblers again lacked a cutting edge and despite winning a number of corners, they failed to make anything of them. Torquay had a couple of efforts themselves but nothing to really worry the Town, Chris Robertson’s header nestled comfortably into Chris Weale’s arms, and the keeper on loan from Leicester also had to deal with a low strike from Eunan O’Kane, but was once more up to the task.
The second half again lacked any real excitement. Byron Webster made a superb block to deny an Ian Morris rebound, and this was followed by Northampton’s best chance of the game. Guttridge had impressed on his second debut, and it was he who threaded a neat ball through for the chasing Berahino. Just as quick though was Olejnik, who stayed big and made the block, as the WBA loanee tried to clip it beyond him.
Unfortunately for Cobblers, they can’t seem to go without conceding at the minute and that pattern continued with quarter of an hour remaining. Kevin Nicholson’s corner was met by commanding centre-back Mark Ellis and his header flew into the visitor’s net. There was never any danger from then on in, the Gulls held firm for another three points to keep their play-off push alive.
There was some excitement off the pitch in the days that followed – Clarke Carlisle has arrived to strengthen the defence for the survival push, and he could well be a big influence as the Cobblers face three crucial games on the spin. A healthy return from Macclesfield, Daggers and Wimbledon would see the spirits lifted once more. If ground isn’t made over those fixtures, then I don’t think we’ll be in the Football League for much longer.