Coventry City 1 Northampton Town 2 – review, ratings and highlights

Cobblers celebrate going ahead at the Ricoh Arena. Pictures by Sharon Lucey
Cobblers celebrate going ahead at the Ricoh Arena. Pictures by Sharon Lucey
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In a season of fluctuating emotions, this was one day that no Northampton Town supporter will forget in a hurry as they witnessed their side triumph in the face of adversity once again on a memorable afternoon for all those 2,500 travelling fans at the Ricoh Arena.

It would perhaps be an understatement to describe the current campaign as a rollercoaster ride for Cobblers fans, such has been the drastic yo-yoing of emotions from one extreme to the other, but supporters, players and coaches simply refuse to be silenced no matter how bad things get behind the scenes.

The season is only 21 games old yet it feels like we’ve had all the drama and emotion of a decade, and it makes you wonder if football is really worth all the hassle.

And then you have days like this, days when you realise why you follow a football team, why it’s all worthwhile.

The off-field issues at Northampton are well-publicised but they have only served to pull the club closer together and there was no better example of that unity and that spirit than at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday.

While over 2,500 travelling fans continued to back their team to the hilt irrespective of the circumstances, the players showed the same defiance and resilience on the pitch with another display packed full of spirit, character and determination.

Initially, the opening quarter suggested this could be a high-scoring encounter with three goals netted in a lively first 20 minutes, however once the Cobblers re-established their advantage having been pegged back by Jacob Murphy, they frustrated their League One opponents with a tenacious defensive performance allied with a constant counter-attacking threat.

In all honesty, though Coventry dominated possession the more the game wore on, they never once were able to get behind an obdurate Northampton rearguard, the Sky Blues only managing three shots on target – all of which came from long-range.

That was largely due to a Cobblers side that worked incredibly hard to shut down space and not give City any time on the ball. It was a performance that combined defensive resolve with gritty determination.

In fact, despite Coventry doing most of the running, it was the Cobblers who created the only real clear-cut chance of the second half, but after doing well to make space for himself in the penalty area, John-Joe O’Toole was thwarted by a fine save from Lee Burge.

But that mattered not as the Cobblers held on for another victory that defied all the odds, one which sees them through to the second round of the FA Cup for just the second time in five years.

But while that is undoubtedly a fine achievement, the final word must go to the spine-tingling and at times deafening away support who generated an incredible noise at the Ricoh Arena, and it would not be any surprise if there were a few tears shed among those tremendous fans who have been put through it all in recent weeks.

Now for the next chapter in this unpredictable season.

How they rated...

Adam Smith - The fact he had so little to do was a mark of just how well Northampton defended. Sharp off his line to mop up anything that came behind the back four... 7

Brendan Moloney - Kept danger man Jacob Murphy quiet after the City man’s goal in an outstanding performance. Certainly didn’t look a player who hasn’t played for seven months... 9 CHRON STAR MAN

Zander Diamond - A colossus at the back. Seemed to win every header and intercept every cross, even after losing his footing on one occasion. Credited with the opening goal after getting a faint touch to Adams’ free-kick.... 9

Rod McDonald - Came in for a lot of criticism at the start of his Cobblers career but has improved markedly since and this was his best game to date. A virtually error-free performance... 8.5

David Buchanan - Hardly ever seems to put a foot wrong. Kept things tight on his side and always offered an attacking outlet... 8

John-Joe O’Toole - Early booking gave cause for concern but kept his discipline and showed composure on the ball with some tidy passes out of defence that set up counter-attacking opportunities. Missed a great chance to put the game to bed... 7

Jason Taylor - Arguably could have done better for City’s goal but on the whole protected the defence well by breaking up play. Also tidy in possession... 7

Alfie Potter - His pace gave Town a constant attacking outlet and his driving runs forward kept Coventry’s defence on their toes... 7

Lawson D’Ath - Produced a magnificent cross that laid the ball on a plate for Richards to head home the second. One of his best displays of the season... 8

Nicky Adams - Won and took the free-kick which led to Diamond’s opener. Neat flick almost played in D’Ath in another influential performance... 8

Marc Richards - Took his goal well, held the ball up to great effect and worked incredibly hard all game.... 8

Substitutes

Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 7

Ryan Watson - 7

Sam Hoskins - 7