Tom Reed reflects on Northampton Town’s defeat to Cheltenham…
Overconfident Cobblers put in one of the worst showings in the Sixfields era by going down 3-1 to Cheltenham Town. Northampton aren’t so much sleepwalking towards the drop as waltzing wide-eyed towards Non-League.
Town fans hoping for a win from Dean Austin’s side after a run of mediocre performances were to be disappointed after all of ten minutes with Cobblers taking their foot off the gas in predictably dreary fashion.
The atmosphere at Sixfields was dead, as it seems is Austin’s visions of front foot winning football as Town aren’t playing on the front foot and aren’t winning.
Cheltenham were on their way to just their second win of the season in the 36th minute when the Robins’ WIll Boyle poked home a Jordon Forster back-stick knock-down. Northampton centre-back Aaron Pierre failed to get anywhere near Forster leaving Boyle to direct the ball past Dai Cornell.
Even a Kevin Van Veen penalty on the hour mark couldn’t inject any optimism into proceedings. However, the build up, in which Sam Hoskins was brought down by Cheltenham keeper Scott Flinders showed that Hoskins is more effective up top than his exile on the wing.
Cobblers are a team playing football on paper at the moment, winning the statistics but not matches. John-Joe O’Toole was gifted an attacking berth due Junior Morias’ injury but the hirsute Town talisman seems to have lost his mojo with his recently shorn locks.
Town are suffering a disconnect between the apparent individual quality of players and the performances of a team with next to no clue about how to put the ball in the net. Matt Crooks was far too deep for most of the game and he drifted in and out in routine fashion. Meanwhile, Dutchman Van Veen spent most of his time huffing and puffing in ineffectual areas with his shooting not as neat as his haircut.
Cobblers centre-back Ash Taylor would have been crucified for some of the basic errors he made in parks football never-mind the EFL standard game. He appears the physical type in being tall and athletic but is just not cutting it. You wonder which other Town players would make it back out if thrust into non-league.
Cheltenham obviously realised Town were there for the taking and retook the lead on 77 minutes via a margarine soft penalty. Jacob Maddox, one of the Robins’ standout performers on the break skipped past Shay Facey in the Town box to be felled by a stray boot. Facey’s lazy leg summed up Town’s performance with the spot kick swept home by Conor Thomas in front of the away side’s paltry yet jubilant support.
Sixfields resounded to the familiar screech of the gates being opened early and fans’ feet skipping down staircases. That noise was to turn into a cacophony on 82 minutes when comedy Cobblers defending allowed the Robins’ Kelsey Mooney another simple tap in. Town’s Matt Crooks had spooned a Cheltenham corner up into his own box and Cobblers stalwart David Buchahan outmuscled by Mooney to put the tin hat on the Robins’ victory.
Town’s worries have gone from a dodgy defence and a ineffectual front threat to a side that appears to have minimal will to win. You’ll find more desire in a convent than amongst the Cobblers players on Saturday.
For some unknown reason the match was streamed live on IFollow for £10 and yet the fans who attended and stumped up £24 were rewarded with one of the worst showings in Town’s rich history book of dreadful performances.
Little wonder that pressure is growing on Town’s rookie boss Austin and Florida based Chairman Kelvin Thomas, whose communication with fans is few and far between now. Town have never dropped into the Conference and if the current crop of well paid professionals get anywhere near it will be a joke.
Van Veen 5