DCSIMG

Jefferson Lake’s Wycombe Wanderers v Northampton Town view and player ratings

PICK OF THE BUNCH - Ricky Ravenhill was the Cobblers' best player at Wycombe (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

PICK OF THE BUNCH - Ricky Ravenhill was the Cobblers' best player at Wycombe (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

 

When the Cobblers drew at Wycombe last season, it was pretty much the death knell for the club’s ambitions of achieving automatic promotion.

At that time, a point away from home was seen as a good outcome for a team that was being well beaten on a regular basis on their travels but it was not enough to take them into the top three.

While there was no such feeling of finality at Adams Park this time around, there was a nagging doubt that an opportunity had been missed and that, with just three games now left to play, the absolute worst-case scenario became another degree more realistic.

None of the huge contingent of visiting supporters, if only for their inspirational performance yesterday, would deserve that.

They attended in number and were loud and proud in what was a spine-tingling and partisan backing for a team that has let them down time and time again in this season and in countless others.

The game itself bordered on the desperately poor at times and the primary - and very obvious - reason for that was that it was between two of the three worst teams in the Football League.

There was also a nervousness about both sides and that hasn’t really been the case with Northampton, even in recent games and with the pressure on them gradually increasing.

Both teams suffered from the debilitating dual affliction of not wanting to make any mistakes while at the same time playing too fast and making sloppy errors in possession.

The only real piece of quality in the match was the ball in and powerful header for Wycombe’s goal, although Chris Wilder will be pleased with the way his team carved the home side open down their left wing, with Evan Horwood getting into an excellent crossing position and playing a devilish pass across goal that would have given anyone that met it a tap-in.

Of course, nobody did.

Because nobody has been tapping in devilish passes all season; the Cobblers have used 10 strikers during the current campaign and only one of them (Luke Norris, five goals in nine starts) has a record to be proud of.

The lack of potency in the forward line is what is undermining the team.

The past three goals the team has scored have all come from goalkeeping errors (although Chris Hackett’s finish at Accrington was superb), and the four before those were an own goal, two Darren Carter penalties and a deflected shot from distance from the same midfield player.

Despite this glaring deficiency, the team remains in the hunt and on Monday the regular ‘ifs and buts’ routine includes a game against an in-form Portsmouth while Wycombe, who have half of their defence injured now, travel to Fleetwood.

Their destiny is no longer in their own, claret-and-white hands, but it might be again after that round of fixtures.

The game at Wycombe, unlike last year, decided nothing and it is still very much a case of as you were, albeit with another game consumed.

At the moment, the only thing you can say with any real certainty is that this is a fight that is going to go all the way down to the wire and the final-day game against… Oxford United.

Player ratings

MATT DUKE

Made a vital, point-saving stop from Kretzschmar’s late free-kick, superbly tipping the effort onto the bar ...7

BEN TOZER

Didn’t let anybody down and played with a calmness after keeping his place in the side, albeit in a different role ...7

ZANDER DIAMOND

Didn’t seem completely comfortable with the set-up when defending set-pieces and allowed himself to be drawn into some unnecessary physical stuff ...7

GREGOR ROBERTSON

A no-frills approach and executed the basics well and was not exactly overworked, with Wycombe going to a lone striker system early in the second half ...6

LEON McSWEENEY

Another good outing, this time at right wing-back, a position that suits his natural stamina and impressive turn of pace ...7

RICKY RAVENHILL

His ball in was a hopeful one but led to the goal and he competed strongly with Lewis and Scowen in the midfield boilerhouse ...7 STAR MAN

IAN MORRIS

An energetic display and he did well in situations where he bought himself time to play but his first touch let him down on a couple of occasions ...6

EVAN HORWOOD

Got better as the game went on and was one of Northampton’s best attacking players in the second half, getting forward to good effect ...7

ALAN CONNELL

Several moments of high-quality technical play but too often found himself on the margins of the game and couldn’t pick up the flow of it ...6

EMILE SINCLAIR

Unquestionably has pace and does use it well but there is a feeling he is capable of much better than he is currently contributing. Remains a frustrating enigma ...6

JOHN MARQUIS

Unfortunate to be booked for a high foot that was two feet off the ground and put himself about with his typical enthusiasm. The pick of the forwards ...7

Substitutes:

CHRIS HACKETT (for Connell 72)

Changed the complexion of the forward line but performed better when moved to a more natural wide position from the central one in which he started ...6

BRENNAN DICKENSON (for Sinclair 72)

Added some pace to the attack but should have done better with a counter-attack that looked like it would produce a goalscoring chance ...6

MATHIAS DOUMBE (for Diamond 79)

Slotted in at centre-back after the injury to Diamond and got through the remainder of the game with no issues ...6

Not used: Snedker, Langmead, Deegan, Moyo

 

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