For a quiet lad, the diminutive Sam Hoskins takes up an awful lot of the Cobblers conversation. Granted there is not much to talk about other than patchy results but the Northampton number 7 divides opinion like no other player. Rumour has it that Hoskins scored in the Checkawhatsit numpty cup on Tuesday but given there was no-one there with a conscience it is hard to verify.
Hoskins goal record is weak with 9 goals stretched between the past two seasons. He’s a player that features at the top end of the pitch but rarely in the leading goalscorer charts. Cobblers fans love a scapegoat and Hoskins has fallen into that role, not because of his work rate per se but mainly because he can never quite seem to shut them up with a brace.
The fact that Hoskins has been at the club for so long probably doesn’t do him any favours. It’s said that Hoskins was Tony Ansell’s apprentice onion chopper at the County Ground, moving on to washing cars in the West Stand car park before being signed by Chris Wilder after admiring the valet he did on his Audi.
However Hoskins signed for Cobblers, the goals haven’t exactly flowed over the years. He’s listed as an attacking midfielder on wikipedia while Transfermarkt described him as a second striker. Therein lies the problem, no-one knows the best position of this claret and white jack of all trades.
No Cobblers manager has been brave enough to play Hoskins through the middle of attack where he can run on to through balls and make time to slot past the opposition. You get the feeling that if he were to drop down to non-league and be played as a central striker he’d get his confidence back and into double figures but his ball carrying is just too valuable for a Cobblers team lacking n dribblers.
Keith Curle came out this week and said he’s giving Sammy extra lessons in finishing and trying to stop him snatching at chances. You do wonder however, if at 26, Hoskins is too old to be taught the instinctive art of piercing the onion bag. True finishers don’t relax into hitting the net, they pounce with intent. The wrongly jettisoned Joe Iaciofano, now at St Albans is a natural finisher, having been netting regularly since childhood and continuing at Clarence Park. A proper finisher also has the anticipatory first touch and ability to create their own chances that Cobblers are trying to drill into Hoskins well into his twenties.
But still, Hoskins is always at the top of the Northampton stats in terms of chances created and you can understand on paper he has been almost an ever present for Curle this season.
We’ll be talking about Sam Hoskins for some time it seems.
Bury and Bolton plight shows the precariousness of Football League life
Very sad news this week as Bury were expelled from the EFL after late takeover talks failed and a financial crisis became too much for the Manchester club. Accrington Stanley chairman Andy Holt has been vocal on the precarious nature of lower league finances while Gillingham owner Paul Scally says he fears a “domino effect” of clubs going to the wall.
Cobblers Chairman Kelvin Thomas came out with some decent ideas on how to deal with further instances of the shenanigans at Bury. The issue for Cobblers fans is how Northampton Town is going to keep its head above water in the next 10-20 years? The Football Supporters Federation (now the FSA) have said that clubs in League 2 need gates of over 5000 to be sustainable in League 2 and 10,000 in League 1. This will be Cobblers greatest challenge with just over 4,000 in for the last home game and Cardoza’s dreadful East Stand development adding only 145 extra seats to a stadium that sits some way short of an 8,000 capacity.
The supporters’ trust meanwhile continue to make hay while the sun just about shines with plans for community ownership, as they should be really. Bury is a massive wake up call.