DCSIMG

Jefferson Lake’s Accrington v Northampton Town preview

STRUGGLING FOR FORM - Cobblers striker Emile Sinclair

STRUGGLING FOR FORM - Cobblers striker Emile Sinclair

 

Although it’s a long way to Accrington, it might actually suit the Cobblers – who by this stage are reaching desperation point for wins – to play away from home.

With their current personnel, there are definite tactical benefits to playing teams who will be under pressure from their own supporters to attack and who will play a high defensive line.

One key benefit is that it has the potential to get the best out of one of their most talented but badly underperforming attacking players, Emile Sinclair.

Sinclair knows he is capable of far much more than he is currently producing and needs to be looking at the huge expanses of grass behind the home defence tomorrow afternoon and rubbing his hands in anticipation.

His pace ‘in behind’ provided the goal Northampton scored – albeit via a Morecambe defender – in their most recent away match and was the defining factor in the memorable 2-1 win at Torquay in February.

Accrington have recovered from their dreadful start to the campaign to the point at which tentative league two plans for next season are being drawn up in that particular corner of Lancashire.

They have not lost at the Crown Ground since Valentine’s Day, and even then it was to a Scunthorpe side who will now, barring a disaster, secure a promotion to the next level.

They have, however, won only five times there and while that is the same amount as Northampton have managed at home, it is only one more than the worst record in the division, currently held by the increasingly doomed-looking Torquay.

The Cobblers have a better away record than they do at home under Chris Wilder, although it must be pointed out they have played two games fewer and if both of those matches were to end in defeat the record would, bizarrely, be identical.

Only Fleetwood have got the better of a Wilder Northampton side on the road, and that is a solid record from six outings so far.

They have picked up results in the crunch games – at Torquay and Exeter – on their travels in precisely the same way they have failed to do so in the big matches against Wimbledon and Bury at Sixfields.

Eighteen months ago the side was unstoppable on their own ground and went on a run of 10 successive victories there but it is a very different place to play now, with the increasingly-worried supporters allowing their fears to manifest themselves in anguished moans and groans.

All of which is entirely understandable and acceptable, although it does remind this reporter of a story recounted by a recently-sold player in which he said the various tuts and sighs meant he was afraid to play his more flair-based game and often went for the safe option instead.

The Sixfields crowd has always been a tough one to please, and a lot of the time it is better at getting on its own players’ backs than those of the opposition.

The only other target is usually the referee, and even they have been pretty well treated in recent months.

So perhaps it’s for the best that the Cobblers are away from home this weekend.

Because while for some clubs, their own ground is a theatre of dreams, for Northampton, at the moment, it’s a cauldron of anxiety.

 

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