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Gripped By The Cobblers: Mental strength or poor defending? It’s a problem either way

Apocalypse Now: Tom Reed's view as Cobblers ship two goals in deepest Oldham

It was a collapse as inevitable as a house of cards built next to a flatulent dog. Cobblers were 2-0 up against a mediocre Oldham side with 5 minutes to go but as soon as the Latics notched a goal in reply, Northampton fans knew what was coming. An 89th minute cross come shot from Oldham’s Jonny Smith looped over a flailing Dai Cornell and a playoff position evaporated in front of shoe army eyes for another week.

The smart ones would have left after the first which Scott Wilson volleyed home after a suicidal Turnbull back header. The damage had been done in the buildup with not a tackle or block in sight. Cobblers fans, having seen Town waste two goal leads on a couple of previous occasions quite reasonably suggested mental strength might be an issue for a team that opponents love to come back at. Keith Curle was having none of it, instead pointing to individual errors.

That leaves poor defending to blame with Andy Williams (only on for half an hour but unable to break up play?) Nicky Adams and Vadaine Oliver getting nowhere near Oldham as they built their first goal. It’s these last gasp moments when two goal leads can be successfully defended via hard work, closing down and intuitive blocks that Sunday league players can manage. So whether it’s mental strength or poor defending, Curle, the manager who prides himself on stopping the opposition playing, has a problem on his hands, Chippenham will sniff blood on Sunday and a very tough run in to Christmas including games against Crewe; Exeter, Forest Green and Cheltenham will put the mental strength argument to bed one way or another.

Mighty McCormack not carrying the Cobblers but not far off

There were further fan accusations of poor tactics by Town boss Curle as Cobblers capitulated after the removal of Alan McCormack with 10 to play at Oldham. You have to have some sympathy with Curle here as the mighty McCormack has chronic injury problems and has to be managed through games. Some will say that Curle’s game management was lacking with McCormack likely to come off at some point. What McCormack has done, is shown many of the current and recent past players up when it comes to being comfortable on the ball. There’s plenty who dream of a team of Alan McC.

Apocalypse Now as the Beeb take a visit

There was much hubbub at Sixfields as the BBC came down to film a feature for Football Focus. The club Twitter was alive with news of how the report was going to show how the “example of the player pathway and community engagement is a template for others to follow”. Maybe there was some overzealous editing but what we got was a 5 minute feature which focused mainly on drill sergeant Curle’s attempts to keep his soldiers in line by making them put their phones in a bag and putting a line of tape in the changing room and fining anyone whose belongings strayed into no man’s land. Everyone knows that player power is a thing these days and fair play to Curle for getting the lads in line. I’d certainly watch a Director’s Cut of the BBC footage but worry that he might go a bit Colonel Curltz.

As for templates to follow, Colchester United, a place above Cobblers in 8th are probably better bets. Their Category 2 youth academy outplayed ours in the Youth Cup on Tuesday while their seniors are through to the League Cup quarter final v Man Utd.

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