Cobblers defender Phillips happy to make the most of his good fortune
He may not have meant it but if anyone deserved a slice of good fortune for recent performances, it's Cobblers right-back Aaron Phillips.
Thrown into the starting line-up as a late replacement for Neal Eardley against Charlton two weeks ago, Phillips has seized his opportunity with both hands.
Man of the match against the Addicks followed by another fine performance at AFC Wimbledon a week later, the young full-back went one better against Port Vale on Tuesday evening when notching his first goal for the club.
It arrived in unorthodox fashion when his over-hit cross deceived Leo Fasan and sailed in, but it was the timing of the goal, rather than the manner, that mattered most.
The 63rd-minute fluke gave the Cobblers a vital lead, and though former Town man JJ Hooper levelled, Matty Taylor’s late thunderbolt sealed an important win.
“Oh I definitely meant it,” quipped Phillips afterwards. “I saw the goalkeeper off his line, even though he was probably on the line, and went for it!
“It’s just one of those that was a cross-cum-shot and it’s gone in.
“I heard a few moans before it left my foot and then all of a sudden everyone was cheering. We needed that win and we got it and that’s the most important thing.”
Phillips has been a revelation at right-back, a position which, barring injury, he seems to have nailed down for the foreseeable future despite competition from Brendan Moloney and Eardley.
Involved in both goals against Charlton and on the scoresheet against Vale, he’s had a say in three of Northampton’s past five goals to establish himself as a key cog in Justin Edinburgh’s system.
“I’ve just been working as hard as I can off the pitch,” he said.
“I haven’t played many games but I’ve being doing extra work in training and the manager’s given me an opportunity.
“I’ve just got to keep going. I’ve performed well in the last three games and now I want to play for the rest of the season and give everything I’ve got. “The manager has helped. He’s told me to be as positive as I can and show people what I’ve got and that’s what I’m doing.”
Now 14th and 11 points clear of the bottom four, Cobblers fans can start to breathe easy and perhaps have one eye on a top-half finish.
They have a tough run of fixtures, starting with a trip to free-scoring Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, but Phillips is in bullish mood.
He continued: “The only way I’m thinking is looking up, I’m not looking behind. We’ve won our last three games. People are talking about relegation but I can’t see that, and I don’t know why people are talking about it.
“I think we’ve got a great chance at Bolton.
“We’ve not conceded many goals in the last three games and we’ve been very strong as a team and I think we can go there positive and go to win the game.”
Much of the focus on Tuesday night was on Phillips’ fellow full-back David Buchanan, who clocked up his 100th successive game for the club.
If Phillips carries on the way he’s going, perhaps he could follow suit? “I’m only 97 behind!
“I think I might struggle to do that but he’s been a great servant to the club and that’s the type of person he is - he just wants to play football and that’s what he’s doing.
“He’s been a great player for Northampton and you can’t fault him.”