Calderwood's work with the defence paying dividends as Cobblers top the clean sheets chart

No team has recorded more shutouts in League Two so far this season

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 2:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th September 2021, 2:06 pm
Colin Calderwood and Ali Koiki.

Cobblers' impressive clean sheet record five games into the new season is largely down to hard work on the training pitch with assistant boss Colin Calderwood.

Town have kept four clean sheets from five matches in League Two this season, a record only Tranmere Rovers can equal and they have played a game extra.

Whilst goals have been harder to come by at the other end, Northampton's stinginess at the back is a big reason for why they currently sit fifth in the table, with Port Vale, Colchester, Crawley and Scunthorpe all prevented from scoring.

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Aaron McGowan, Jon Guthrie and goalkeeper Liam Roberts have played every minute in the league so far, while Fraser Horsfall missed Rochdale's visit through suspension - the only game in which Cobblers conceded - and Ali Koiki replaced the injured Joseph Mills on Saturday.

"We work a lot with Colin on the training ground and we also work hard with the goalkeepers Robbo and Jonny (Maxted)," said McGowan. "And at the moment we have one of the best defensive records in the country so it's nothing but positive.

"I think what has also helped is that we have been really settled at the back and we're building great relationships.

"I feel like I'm getting to know Fraser's game really well and he knows my game - I actually live with him - and it's the same on the other side of the pitch.

"The saying goes that goals win you games but defences win you promotion so if we can get the balance right and get it right at both ends of the pitch, we can go a long way.

"The problem for the past few weeks has been putting the ball in the back of the net but that doesn't just come down to the strikers.

"We can chip in all over, including myself, and obviously a big part of it is the service to the strikers - we can't just put the blame on them."

Town's defence will likely face their toughest test yet when they head to League Two's top scorers Forest Green Rovers this weekend.

"You can't take Forest Green lightly," McGowan added. "They are the top scorers in the division but we won't make it attack versus defence.

"It'll be a good battle for us at the back on Saturday and we'll treat them with respect and expect a tough game because they are a very good football team and they move the ball about well and create chances.

"But this is what we're in the game for - to test ourselves and I'm confident going there and I know the lads are confident.

"It is a tough game but how many easy games will there be in this league? There isn't one so it's not new to us and it's not new to myself and hopefully we'll come away with the three points."