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Jeremy Casey’s Fleetwood Town v Northampton Town view and player ratings

DISAPPOINTING DAY - Antonio German worked hard, but failed to make any attacking impression for Cobblers at Fleetwood (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

DISAPPOINTING DAY - Antonio German worked hard, but failed to make any attacking impression for Cobblers at Fleetwood (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

With 16 games remaining in this frustrating season, the Cobblers have a stack of work to do to save their Football League lives.

Of that there is no doubt.

Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at promotion-chasing Fleetwood means that Town remain bottom of Sky Bet League Two, five points shy of the safety line.

It was a disappointing result on the back of Tuesday night’s 2-1 win at fellow strugglers Torquay United, but was, on the balance of play and chances at the Highbury Stadium, a fair scoreline.

Yes, the Cobblers played well in patches, and no, Fleetwood weren’t exceptional by any means.

But the hard facts are, home team scored twice, and could have scored a couple more, while Fleetwood goalkeeper Chris Maxwell didn’t have a single serious save to make.

The defeat means that the glass half empty section of the Cobblers support are again fearing the worst and predicting an inevitable relegation.

And that is understandable when you look at the league ladder.

But is it time for everybody involved with the Cobblers to do themselves and their blood pressure a favour and stop the hourly, daily and weekly table watching?

After the win at Torquay in midweek everybody was on a high.

That glass was half full... for a little while anyway.

Now the doom, for some, has set in again.

So is it time to stop obsessing with where the team is right now, and to just concentrate on where they will be come the final whistle on the final game of the season against Oxford United on May 3?

Is it time to stop worrying constantly about any sort of boom, and the bust that may follow?

Yes, a win on Saturday would have seen the Cobblers move to within two points of third-from-bottom Wycombe, whose match at Cheltenham was postponed.

But the the fact is, anything the Cobblers could have gleaned from Saturday’s trip to the north west would have been seen as a massive bonus.

It was always going to be a tall order for Chris Wilder’s new-look team to get any reward against a settled and expensively-assembled side that still has realistic ambitions of automatic promotion from league two, indeed a team that might still win the title.

And this is where table-gazing at the minute simply does little but depress.

Because the Cobblers’ route to survival this season is not going to rely on winning matches on the road against teams in the promotion race.

No. it’s going to lie in the results in the 10 home matches that are yet to be played this season.

It’s going to lie in the results against teams in and around the relegation battle.

It’s going to lie in Town getting the 26, 27, 28 or however many points they need to save themselves, whenever they can get them.

And as long as they get them by May 3, does it really matter how far adrift they are at the end of February? Or the middle of March?

Wilder will have pinpointed exactly where the points needed for survival can be pocketed, and with three home games on the trot coming up next, this is a forthcoming spell in which he will have high hopes for success.

But on the flip side, if it doesn’t go to plan in the next fortnight, the fight for survival won’t be all over.

And that’s why it might be best for Cobblers fans, as hard as it may be to do so, to just ignore the league table for a couple of weeks, concentrate on getting behind the team, and then we can see where the land lies in a few weeks’ time.

The big talking point from Saturday’s defeat was the decision by Chris Wilder to drop the two-goal hero from Torquay, Emile Sinclair, and his strike partner Alan Connell.

Left winger Ben Dickenson was also left out as the Town boss opted for a more secure 4-5-1 formation, with John Marquis leading the line on his full Cobblers debut.

The Cobblers boss defended the decision afterwards, pointing to the fact that the strike pair may have needed a breather after the trip to Devon and with the pair not having played a lot of football so far this season.

But there is no denying the Cobblers looked a much better team as an attacking force as soon as Connell was introduced as a substitute 20 minutes from time.

To leave Connell and Sinclair out was a bold move by Wilder, which in hindsight, and privately, he may regret, as although the Cobblers were solid at Fleetwood, they never looked like opening up the Cod Army defence for the majority of the game.

Town played some neat and tidy football, and were in the game until Fleetwood’s second goal 10 minutes from time which knocked the stuffing out of the team when they were belatedly getting up an attacking head of steam.

Elsewhere, there were encouraging attacking signs down the right where Leon McSweeney and Chris Hackett look to have a good understanding, but defensively, it will be a concern that Evans, operating on McSweeney’s flank, was twice allowed to drift infield unmarked and score.

Other pluses were Marquis, who was impressive as a lone striker, and Ben Tozer who was excellent in central defence.

Player ratings

MATT DUKE - still looks a little edgy, but two instinctive saves kept Cobblers in the game... 6

LEON McSWEENEY - good going forward, but defensive concentration or communication lacking... 6

MATHIAS DOUMBE - had his hands full with the excellent Parkin, and stuck to his task. Exposed for first goal... 6

BEN TOZER - it’s pretty obvious that centre-back is Tozer’s best position, STAR MAN... 7

JOE WIDDOWSON - solid at the back, and looks to be returning to his defensive best... 6

CHRIS HACKETT - a constant threat, and looks to be building good understanding with McSweeney... 7

GARY DEEGAN - a busy performance. Always wanted the ball and worked hard, but end product lacking... 5

RICKY RAVENHILL - grafted hard to protect the back four, and as combative as ever... 6

DARREN CARTER - plays on the fringes too much, needs to take more responsibilty and get more involved more often... 5

ANTONIO GERMAN - effort can’t be faulted, but offered very little as an attacking threat down the left... 5

JOHN MARQUIS - ran himself into the ground as the lone striker, put himself about and unsettled Fleetwood defence... 6

SUBSTITUTE

EMILE SINCLAIR (for German, 49 mins) - didn’t really get into the game from wide on the left... 5

ALAN CONNELL (for Ravenhill, 69 mins) - provided an instant spark, an immediate link between midfield and attack... 6

Not used: Morris, Snedker, Moyo, Toney, Dickenson

 

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