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Gripped by the Cobblers: In praise of Nicky Adams, the lower-league Stanley Matthews

There was a moment on Saturday, when Nicky Adams, Northampton’s squat, skilful winger, became unplayable, bringing visions of the great Stanley Matthews. The Grimsby defenders backed off like he was a wolf that had strolled into a village. Now, of course, Adams will never feature for England like Matthews or encounter the kind of pitches that Matthews used to traverse for fun for Stoke and Blackpool, but their stock in trades were/are the same, turning defenders inside out for fun.

Adams, like Matthews has the ability to switch feet and bamboozle markers, while having the superlative ability to send in crosses. It doesn’t matter what level you ply your trade at, that instinct to beat a man will cause give the opposition nightmares. Adams, like Matthews is a player that you’d pay to watch, absolutely on top of his game. Just takes a moment this weekend as Adams collects the ball, wary defenders start to back off and then in a second he’s gone and the ball delivered pin point for the attackers. That’s the sort of thing that had fans singing Matthews name and it’s a beautiful thing to see with wing-craft dying out like dinosaurs in the modern game.

Four years since the Bower/Thomas takeover

It was a quiet 4 year anniversary of the Kelvin Thomas/ David Bower takeover of Northampton Town this week. Northampton Chairman Thomas is heard less from now than when he took control of the club in late 2015. You can never judge a club owner till about 5 years after they have left, things have improved in some ways, less so in others. The Cobblers definitely seem a more well oiled machine but the bar was hardly high with the Cardozas. On the pitch things are on the up after a good few years of underachieving so the current board deserve credit for appointing Keith Curle and sticking by him. The unfinished East Stand literally looms over everything and fans by and large seem totally disillusioned by the whole thing. Even if the design is finished as it is, there are question marks over what discernible difference it is going to make in producing a sustainable club at League 1 level where the club aim to be. In these 4 years could the stand have been finished by crowd funding, added sponsorship, a straight loan or a combination of all 3? Answers on a postcard as Stevenage prepare to open their new North Stand.

Cam McWilliams starring for St Ives but where will he fit in?

A proud youth team boss Jon Brady tweeted footage of a Cam McWilliams goal for St Ives this week. The Northampton youth player is on loan to the Cambridgshire outfit and scored a neat goal after scorching up the wing and rounding the keeper. 

Right-back McWilliams, one of the most technically gifted in the last crop of youth prospects brings to the fore the old argument about when is the best time to blood such talent in the first team. Then you have the issue of uniformity of playing style throughout the club and whether a classic right-back is going to be surplus to requirements with the 1st team manager favouring a 3-5-2 with attacking midfielders taking the wing-back slots. That’s a debate that will run and run as Brady develops his DNA for the youth system that he mentioned in a recent BBC interview.

Spot kick silliness as Williams is thwarted

There was uproar at Sixfields on Saturday as referee Andy Haines failed to give what looked like a clear Cobblers penalty for a foul on Andy Williams. The Northampton forward collected a nice Hoskins pass into the Grimsby box, turned and appeared to be felled by a Harry Davis lunge. The shoe army were on their feet celebrating what looked like an obvious spot-kick but, after an age of consideration, the whistler failed to blow. In that instance surely it’s either a penalty or a yellow-card for simulation from Williams? Such a late and exaggerated attempt at the ball by Davis wasn’t really needed. It’s enough to make you want VAR for League 2, or maybe not.

Wilder to West Ham a cast iron move?

The Daily Mirror reported this week that West Ham are considering Sheffield United’s god like manager Chris Wilder should the Hammers sack Manuel Pelligrini. Of course, there is going to be interest in Wilder, the former Northampton boss who has got the Blades to the heady heights of 6th place in the Premier League. However, Northamptonians cast a caring eye over Wilder so the question has to be asked whether West Ham would be the right move? 

In league terms obviously not with the Hammers 1 place above the drop zone it would appear to be a backwards step. Above all, Wilder loves a close relationship with the fans and you’d wonder what thrill he’d get by managing West Ham in such a cavernous Olympic Stadium, at odds with the visceral atmosphere of Bramall Lane that fills up Bladesmen’s senses. In honesty, Wilder’s stock is rising so fast that’d you’d think he’d only be tempted if one of the Big 6 came in, and then only marginally.

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