Yay, we’re not going to end
the season August with zero points to our name after all. And we’re off the bottom…
Surely a time for mass celebration and parties across south London this weekend? Maybe not, and not everyone was 100% impressed.
Three draws for Cobblers and us desperate to get off the mark, with hindsight 0-0 at Sixfields should have been the easiest prediction of the weekend.
But should we have had more? Yes in my opinion.
Ryan Clarke had another decent game but that was because he made one very good save early on and then had nothing to do for 85 minutes.
We had 13 shots to their 8, we had 14 corners to their 6 – but I don’t needs stats to tell me if we had a bit more in the cahoonas department we could well be basking in the glow of our first win this season.
I agree the conditions were tough, strong gusty winds don’t make for beautiful football. But after our ‘up and at em’ second half display against Scunny surely that would suit us rather than them.
We’ll never know because instead of trying the direct approach that has brought us much success we tried to out-football them.
We played a passing game and gave plenty of decent ball to our wingers. As usual – and maybe preoccupied with defensive responsibilities – they did precious little with it.
And we desperately need that creativity. We need them to beat a defender, get to the byline and put dangerous crosses in for Tom and Tyrone.
We need them to cut inside and give Lyle the ball in areas he can exploit. To often the ball doesn’t come in or it arrives from so deep the strikers can’t do anything with it.
While I’m on the subject of wingers how long is it going to take to get Whelpdale fit, similarly Tyrone? I remember Lyle arrived in poor shape and only got fit whilst serving a suspension for the dismissal at Mansfield. Well, let’s give Whelps and Tyrone 2 weeks off and get them fit, they’ll be a lot more use when they come back.
I do understand why we were cautious and how important is was to get a point on the board. A fourth successive defeat would have been a significant psychological blow and scoreboard (ok table) pressure we could do without. Let’s just hope we are a little more adventurous next time such an opportunity presents itself.
And we did look a lot better at the back. Darius was my tip for POTY and if any of our lot look League 1 standard it’s him. He’ll get better as the season goes on and with any luck he’ll drag the rest of our defence with him.
Plus points: Clean sheet. We didn’t lose. We’re off the bottom.
Minus points: Not enough goal threat.
The referee’s a…: fussy old bloke. Too many free kicks re-taken for being 2 yards in the wrong place. After a chat with his linesman he also produced a very odd yellow card, still no idea who’s direction it was aimed.
Them: solid at the back but missing Ricky Holmes up the other end, never looked likely to score. Chatting to one of their stewards he thought 2 of the 4 up would go back down, on this evidence I think they might be one.
Anything else: 424 away fans and yet we took over a 1000 another 60 miles up the road to Walsall, what’s not to like about Northampton? Easy journey, average ground and a fair chance of points. Strange… but if you stayed at home yesterday you did the right thing.
So next stop Rochdale for the mighty Dons and I expect 3 points. But we need Tom to be more than a handful, he needs goals and assists. We need Lyle to find another gear.
And finally we need balls…. because if we’re brave enough I think we’re good enough.
Guess we can put the alcohol on ice for just a little while longer, then.
From my vantage point at the Madejski yesterday (and what fun I had there – it started with a power cut and got worse as the day went on), it seemed that we had more corners than a complex polyhedron but took them as well as a 1990s small Japanese truck.
I suppose those there will rue the fact we didn’t win, but when confidence is starting to slip, this might end up being quite an important result after all.
We can keep a clean sheet after all, which is something that has already looked a task too far for too many games this season. That simply has to help the confidence if nothing else.
Thankfully, as much as us going out in the League Cup stopped being funny years ago, we do have a blank week ahead of us now. It might give us breathing space, and dare I suggest a chance to take stock?
There’s plenty to look back on, not just in defence either. Our four strikers need to, erm, start striking. And I don’t mean do their impression of the RMT either.
The amount of times you read that Elliott has “just missed the target” suggests it’s a little more than finding our feet right now. Although to be fair to TE, he’s our most effective forward right now and at least gets the chances.
Like the backline simply needing a clean sheet, our forwards may simply need a goal (each) to start motoring. The law of averages hints that Elliott will eventually get one, though that’s never guaranteed.
We’ve learnt a lot in these three weeks. The bad news is that it’s been harder than we’ve realised, but the good news is that the gap isn’t insurmountable.
And if it is a lesson that we’ve picked up quickly, then great – we may still need to do one more dip into the transfer market, but at least we’ll know what we need.
We’ll undoubtedly become a cropper a few too many times for my liking, but this morning that first psychological hurdle has been jumped over. And it’s a surprisingly nice feeling.
Obviously, when we lose 4-0 to Rochdale on Saturday, we’ll be back to getting relegated by November, but one hopes this season may not be a clusterfuck after all.
Anyway, even the league table looks slightly better this morning. We’re no longer rock bottom, and as many have said already – you would have taken being a place ahead of Sheffield United with four games gone….