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Jefferson Lake’s Cobblers v Burton view and player ratings: Now Town must perform on the road

SHINING LIGHT - Jake Robinson was the Cobblers' star man in the 1-0 win over Burton (Picture: Kelly Cooper)

SHINING LIGHT - Jake Robinson was the Cobblers' star man in the 1-0 win over Burton (Picture: Kelly Cooper)

 

Saturday’s win over Burton Albion was the most complete ‘club’ performance that Northampton Town has produced for many years.

The ground staff and hardy band of supporters did their bit by arriving almost before it was light to shovel snow from the covers that had been pegged into the pitch for the preceding week.

The board of directors agreed to pay out to hire a snow plough and have the paths and car parks at Sixfields gritted to ensure they were not tripped up by any health and safety types.

And then, the final piece of the jigsaw was slotted into place by the players, who ground down a stubborn and defence-minded Burton Albion to bank the three points that puts the club’s name in the play-off places and restores the supporters’ warm glow that had been frozen to ice by the shambolic Chesterfield display.

Burton played like a team who have a poor away record (although they have won more away games than Northampton this season, and in fewer attempts too), playing five in midfield in an attempt to limit the game’s inventive side, and taking what appeared to be a geological age over every goal kick.

They could not claim to be the better side at any point of the game, although to defeat them required a wealth of peristence as well as the quality provided out wide by the home side’s two best players on the day, Chris Hackett and Jake Robinson.

But while this was a pleasing victory that warmed up a frostbitten Sixfields crowd that actually arrived in decent number, there was the usual caveat about the current crop of Cobblers players - namely the nagging doubt about the team’s form on the road.

So bad have the team been at times on their travels, losing to sides ranging from the limited (Oxford United) to the simply outright poor (Barnet, Bristol Rovers, Plymouth Argyle) that to be sixth with such a road record is an enormous achievement and one that illustrates just how exceptional the side is on its own ground.

To achieve a top-seven finish based only on strong home form would be an accomplishment that it would defy all the logic of competitive sport.

It also seems hugely unlikely.

The team surely cannot keep beating all comers at Sixfields and they have to improve away from home if they are to mount a serious challenge for promotion honours this season.

Five of the side’s next six games are away from home, starting with a southern swing double-header against Aldershot on Tuesday night and Gillingham seven days later.

Maybe the team should take something out of Burton’s book and adopt a slower, more deliberate and more defensive policy away from home? Whatever they do they need to take something from these games.

Northampton are an all-conquering force at home.

Now they have to be the kind of team that can assert themselves on opponents in a foreign environment.

Because that is the kind of team that gets promoted.

Ratings

LEE NICHOLLS

Virtually a spectator for 95 per cent of the game and was never really tested for his clean sheet ...7

BEN TOZER

Acquitted himself excellently against the very dangerous Maghoma and can be very pleased with his performance ...7

KELVIN LANGMEAD

Zola is one of the best strikers in league two but Langmead kept him very quiet and he never got a look-in ...7

CLARKE CARLISLE

A far superior display to the one he produced at Chesterfield - stuck to the basics of centre-half play and did them well ...7

JOE WIDDOWSON

Showed his attacking qualities with several overlapping runs in what is becoming a developing partnership on the left with Robinson ...7

CHRIS HACKETT

‘Keep calm and pass to Hackett’ was the team’s motto in the first half and, again, he was their main attacking player for long spells ...8

BEN HARDING

A marked improvement on last week’s efforts but spurned a couple of good shooting opportunities in good areas ...6

LUKE GUTTRIDGE

Got his foot in on several occasions and competed hard against the extra man Burton employed in midfield ...6

JAKE ROBINSON

Displayed quality, intensity and sheer effort in a performance that also had glimpses of a confidence rarely seen in Northampton colours ...8

CLIVE PLATT

Not really his day - played with good mobility and enthusiasm but crossed the disciplinary line on too many occasions ...6

ADEBAYO AKINFENWA

Took his goal well but had at least three other good chances to score with headers that all failed to hit the target ...6

Substitutes:

ISHMEL DEMONTAGNAC (for Platt, 82mins)

LEWIS HORNBY (for Robinson, 90+2mins)

Subs not used: Not used: Snedker, Wilson, Turnbull, Moyo

Man of the match: Robinson

 

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