Tom Reed looks for reasons to be cheerful during Northampton’s goalless draw with Notts County…
Poor finishing and weak crossing cost Cobblers in a soggy 0-0 draw at Sixfields against Notts County. While Summer appears to be over, Northampton’s failure to hit the net continues.
Dean Austin’s side gained their first clean sheet of the season against a poor County eleven but it will not be enough to ease relegation fears.
Cobblers simply do not have enough players who can work the wing and send proper whipped deliveries to their forwards. Nor do they have strikers with the guile to get into goal-scoring opportunities in the box and actually pierce the onion bag.
Kevin Van Veen was Town’s standout player but he did most of his work in midfield with clever distribution and that is not what he was brought in for. Meanwhile, Sam Hoskins again failed to beat his man with crosses that were, predictably, blocked.
The mood was set for a dour day in Northampton with cool temperatures and grey skies matching the mood of the pissed off shoe army faithful. The North Stand fans, normally vocal, stood with their arms crossed as if to say ‘give us something to cheer about’ but Town couldn’t quite manage it.
There was plenty of possession for the claret and white and the stats will show that Cobblers bossed the shots but Town produce as much end product as the closed down Marks and Spencer store in Abington Street.
Town had a fair chance on 22 minutes when minutes when Matt Crooks sent a cute low hit volley goalwards but ex-Crystal Palace keeper Ross Fitzsimons palmed away.
Referee Paul Marsden drew the home fans’ ire with a patchy performance that managed to be both whistle happy yet with no real control over proceedings. Town fans howled at his inability to force County players to take throw-ins from proper positions.
Meanwhile, classy former player and current County boss Harry Kewell scowled from the sidelines as if contemplating what he had done wrong in life to be managing such substandard personnel.
Cobblers fans were also wary of another dodgy showing from centre-back Ash Taylor who got himself booked as early as 21 minutes while also slipping over and injuring his hip. Forlorn Taylor’s failure to track Kane Hemmings almost resulted in a goal just shy of half-time but the striker could only head over.
Ex-Sunderland beanpole Jon Stead then sent a looping header just over with Taylor watching once more.
The second half proved more of the same for Town who showed no flair, drive or any real enjoyment of being out on the pitch. Sam Hoskins, Town’s hardest working player put in another ‘jigsaw’ performance by going to pieces in the box.
Cobblers had goalie Dai Cornell to thank for tipping a Hemmings long ranger on to the bar and away on 70 minutes. The Welsh stopper put out a strong left hand after Hemmings had skipped past Taylor and sent a stinger in from 20 yards. Of course, the other way of looking at it is that Cornell had again been targeted from distance and Town were centimetres from defeat.
It doesn’t take much to stand out in this NTFC team but no-one is shining. Even Van Veen, blessed with more technique than others blasted a last gasp shot over. The Dutchman is worrying the steelwork in the stands and the car windscreens behind more than he is the goal.
Town left the field at the end of the goalless draw 5th from bottom and most definitely one of the 8 worst teams in the division. If Cobblers have a player in the youth ranks that can beat a man and deliver crosses into the box then let’s see him in the team. Likewise a natural finisher who can craft his own chances, drive goalwards and actually score. Quite what Billy Waters has to do to get a game god only knows.
Town travel to Mansfield next week, with the potential for a battering from the Midlands mid-table team. Cobblers boss Austin has said that Northampton just need to go out and thrash someone but the feeling remains that Town’s defence has the potential to crumble.
Van Veen 7