DCSIMG

Jefferson Lake’s Torquay United v Northampton Town view and player ratings

STAR MAN - Cobblers striker Emile Sinclair was outstanding at Torquay (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)

STAR MAN - Cobblers striker Emile Sinclair was outstanding at Torquay (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)

 

Chris Wilder’s achievements on the road with Oxford this season suggested he was always likely to get better results away from home with the Cobblers than he would at Sixfields.

On the scant evidence of his three matches to date, that theory has been unequivocally proved correct, although it should be noted that no real conclusions can be drawn from such a limited period of analysis.

At Torquay the team might have produced their most complete away performance of the season although, it must be said, the pickings for that award are pretty slim.

They did not play an out-and-out counter-attacking game and were in fact quite clever in how they played in the ‘transitions’ - when possession quickly switched between the sides and gaps opened up which could be exploited.

In Alan Connell they have a player who gets in the pockets of space in advanced midfield where he can drop between the lines of the home team’s two banks of four and look for either a centre-forward running in behind or a winger outside the full-back.

Emile Sinclair showed that he can finish off the goalscoring chances that come his way - credit to him for this because the jury was out on that particular skill on the evidence of the Plymouth game, but he twice showed a glacial calm in the Plainmoor mud.

Sinclair and Connell forged a good partnership and further food for thought was provided in that area by John Marquis, who impressed in an extended cameo role and was not afraid to risk committing a foul if he meant putting a little uncertainty into the home defence.

Gregor Robertson was solid on debut, both full-backs performed to a high standard and Chris Hackett, as well as benefitting from another fitness-building 90 minutes, also opened up his own personal box of tricks on three or four occasions.

More than any individual accolades though, this was a huge win for the team and for the football club.

Wilder spoke afterwards about how Torquay had been desperate to stage the match, on a very soft but entirely playable surface, because they may have felt Northampton would have been an easy three points.

Their manager, Chris Hargreaves, would also doubtlessly have wanted to show the Town powers-that-be what they were missing when they missed out on his signature on a managerial contract in December.

But the well-planned script was torn up by Sinclair, who scored two goals from which the Cobblers never looked back.

It is too early to say that the team has clicked or that things will continue to improve, but this was definitely a step in the right direction and a huge psychological boost.

The team is now five points off safety with the club in their targets, Wycombe Wanderers, having played a game more and in the midst of a dreadful run that has yielded just a single win in the past 18 games.

How many supporters would swap their position - and squad - for the league placing and personnel of the Cobblers?

You can bet any money you like that Chris Wilder wouldn’t.

Player ratings

MATT DUKE

Had a couple of slips but there was none of the dark moments that have haunted his recent performances ...7

LEON MCSWEENEY

More defence that attack from the full-back and he was rock solid in that department, showing a good reading and a nice turn of pace ...8

MATHIAS DOUMBE

Lost Pearce for the Torquay goal through a combination of his movement and a timely block - was okay otherwise ...6

GREGOR ROBERTSON

Didn’t look out of place and, considering he has played the bulk of his career at left-back, played pretty well in the centre ...7

JOE WIDDOWSON

Was good on and off the ball and put his body on the line for the cause, picking up a foot injury in the second half ...7

CHRIS HACKETT

Shows some signs of the old magic and his contribution on a horrible surface should be applauded ...7

RICKY RAVENHILL

Unlucky to be booked and shed blood for the cause in a typically combative central midfield performance ...7

DARREN CARTER

A vast improvement on his level against Plymouth; made tackles, linked up play and was still full of running after 90 minutes ...7

BEN DICKENSON

Went past Mansell like he wasn’t there on a couple of occasions but they couldn’t get him in the game enough and he found himself marginalised ...6

EMILE SINCLAIR

Took the chances that came his way with a nerveless precision and also contributed an intense work rate ...8 - STAR MAN

ALAN CONNELL

His ball for Sinclair’s second goal was a sublime pass and he can be pleased with his evening’s performance as the second striker ...7

Substitutes:

JOHN MARQUIS(for Sinclair 60)

Lived up to his pre-match billing as a ‘horrible’ player to play against and has a veneer of quality about him too ...7

ANTONIO GERMAN (for Connell 77)

Embarked on a couple of his usual runs and slotted in reasonably well on the left of midfield after Dickenson’s injury ...6

BEN TOZER (for Dickenson 81)

Introduced as a holding midfield player and was an extra head on the end of Torquay’s crosses in the final 10 minutes ...6

Not used: Morris, Snedker, Deegan, Toney

 

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