Keith Curle’s honeymoon period appears to be over at the Cobblers just shy of two months after his appointment, writes Tom Reed. Cobblers shipped 3 goals in the first half at Newport County going down 3-1 in South Wales.
The rout in the County V Town match followed the disappointing 2-2 draw at Sixfields against League strugglers Grimsby. Cobblers played very little football in either game throwing up big question marks over Northampton’s future direction of travel. They currently sit 8 points off the playoff but just 7 off the drop-zone to non-league.
Curle has tinkered with a 3-5-2 and 4-4-2 formation but that may be because he is unhappy with the personnel at hand and doesn’t know what to do for the best selection wise. In truth, the return of Ash Taylor to centre-back has been pretty disastrous with the former Aberdeen man not picking up any form after injury. Town have shipped 5 goals in the last 2 matches and it seems that Northampton’s rearguard will be the place for ex-Wimbledon defender Curle to start reinforcing when the transfer window opens in January.
Tuesday night’s defensive line-up of Cornell, Odoffin, Taylor, Pierre and Buchanan reads like a substitute bench in waiting in all honesty with only Pierre one to build a back-line around. Dave Buchanan has been a loyal servant to the club but at 32 is not getting any quicker and Curle should be looking at strengthening Town’s presence up the wings.
Curle gave his players the customary dressing room dressing down at Newport, so regular for Cobblers players the club may as well record one on tape with someone screaming “you’ve let everyone down again” on repeat.
Yet it’s a brave move for Curle to talk about making a “few alterations” in January and needing “other pieces” for his jigsaw with 5 league matches still to play before the transfer window opens on January 1st. We’ve seen how difficult it has been to shift the likes of Yaser Kasim that rebuilding teams is easier said than done and Town have a fair few players who appear to come up short of what Curle is looking for.
Cobblers star youth being wasted?
17 year-old Morgan Roberts was a welcome last addition to the proceedings at Newport coming on as an 84th minute sub to replace Sam Hoskins. The tricky attacker has been with the club since the age of 10 and was one of the star performers that saw off Swindon Town in the FA Youth Cup to earn a tie v Arsenal in Round 3.
Yet, Town’s talented youth are not making the inroads into first team action that they probably deserve. Only recently, Joe Iaciofano and Sean Whaler made loan moves to AFC Mansfield where both starred on their debut. Winger Whaler received Man Of the Match while lethal goal poacher Iaciofano netted first time of asking. It’s confusing why players from a League 2 club have been loaned to a Northern Premier Division One East team? Maybe AFC Mansfield, second bottom of the fairly lowly division were the only club to show an interest but surely Town’s promising youth need to be tested at a higher level, preferably with the shoe army roaring them on?
Instead of blindly sticking with the out of sorts senior Cobblers players such as Sam Hoskins and John-Joe O’Toole, why aren’t the technically gifted youth products Scott Pollock and Jay Williams being slotted in to compliment Town’s established pros with a bit of verve? Another piece of the puzzle that Keith Curle will have to get to grips with, otherwise the most talented youth team in recent years will be wasted by being overly tentative.