DCSIMG

Jefferson Lake’s Cobblers view and ratings: Bayo rises to the big-match challenge

GOAL MACHINE - Adebayo Akinfenwa celebrates the first of his two goals against Wycombe on Saturday (Picture: Sharon Lucey)

GOAL MACHINE - Adebayo Akinfenwa celebrates the first of his two goals against Wycombe on Saturday (Picture: Sharon Lucey)

 

Big games call for big performances from big players. And they don’t come much bigger - in every sense of the word - than Adebayo Akinfenwa.

After a spell on the sidelines at Bradford City in midweek, the powerhouse was back to his brutal best, battering in two goals and giving the visiting Wycombe defence more headaches than a night down Bridge Street.

Akinfenwa can now be called, with some certainty, the best Northampton Town striker of the Sixfields era.

He is the most consistent goalscorer to represent the club for 20 years and history will judge him to be one of their all-time greats.

But while this win, in a game Aidy Boothroyd called the biggest of the campaign so far, was built on what Akinfenwa did in the penalty area, it was a legitimate team victory, with just about every player registering an above average performance.

Wycombe had their chances but to be in this position in the league with so many players missing through injury, illness and suspension, is a very good achievement and the feeling is the current squad is not too far away from being a serious force in the division.

How different that situation is to the one Aidy Boothroyd inherited 12 months ago; a year ago this weekend the team had lost 7-2 at home to Shrewsbury and seemingly had the controls set for non-League football.

What’s even more impressive about the current form is the way the team is playing without a huge contingent of first-teamers - David Artell, Luke Guttridge, Alex Nicholls and Emyr Huws were all missing yesterday and all would most likely start.

Kelvin Langmead marshalled his defence superbly and the wide midfield players provided creativity and invention in a game that despite the scoreline could have gone either way.

It almost goes without saying that Chris Hackett was very good (because he pretty much always is), and he enjoyed another first-rate showing, this time as the second striker behind Akinfenwa.

Hackett is a finished article of a player and in central midfield another career is starting to blossom very nicely.

Lewis Hornby will not turn 18 until the week before the season ends and on Saturday he played like an experienced professional, looking composed and brave on the ball and making his fair share of tackles.

With Huws out with illness, Hornby needed to step up and he certainly did that.

It speaks volumes about the 17-year-old’s class, physical conditioning and stamina that his performance came four days after a two-hour shift against Bradford that ended with a confident penalty in a high-pressure shoot-out situation.

That 120 minutes of central-midfield combat itself followed 90 minutes away from home at Accrington. In all three games, Hornby played with an enormous confidence and quality.

Hornby is not quite the game-changer Michael Jacobs was when he broke into the first team, but the memorable games against Brighton, Reading and Liverpool at the start of Jacobs’ breakout season came when he was three months away from his 19th birthday; Hornby won’t even be able to legally buy a pint until April.

Akinfenwa is one of the true starts of the modern Northampton Town era. Hornby may yet go on to be one of the next ones.

COBBLERS RATINGS

LEE NICHOLLS

Good decision-making and did well in the one-against-one save from Dunne ...7

DANNY EAST

Clumsy and reckless foul for clear penalty but everything else was totally acceptable ...6

KELVIN LANGMEAD

Doesn’t seem to ever do anything other then full-blooded defending and leadership ...8

BEN TOZER

Looked accomplished at the back and the throw was a weapon once again ...7

JOE WIDDOWSON

Typically consistent and joined in with a number of attacks down his side ...7

JAKE ROBINSON

His best touch was the volley that flew in at the precise moment the whistle blew for a penalty ...6

LEWIS HORNBY

The curve keeps going upwards for the 17-year-old boy who plays like a man 10 years his elder ...8

BEN HARDING

A welcome return for the midfielder who does all the ugly but vital things in the centre ...7

ISHMEL DEMONTAGNAC

Fits and starts of real quality and definitely appears to have something about him ...6

CHRIS HACKETT

Spearheaded countless attacks with his puncturing runs from deep, scored one and made one ...8

ADEBAYO AKINFENWA

Played with the usual menace and tenacity and simply cannot stop scoring at the moment ...8

Substitutes:

CLIVE PLATT (for Demontagnac, 59mins)

Won the penalty for Akinfenwa’s second and provided some very useful link-up play ...7

DAVID MOYO (for Akinfenwa, 78mins)

ANTHONY CHARLES (for Robinson, 88mins)

Not used: Higgs, Mukendi, Wilson, Toney

 

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