Cobblers skipper Richards insists there is no crisis in scoring confidence at Sixfields
Skipper Marc Richards insists the Cobblers are not suffering a crisis of confidence when it comes to scoring goals.
Town haven’t hit the back of the net for just shy of 500 minutes in all competitions, failing to score in any of their past five games.
They have suffered two defeats to Scunthorpe United (1-0 in the FA Cup and 3-0 in the League), as well as going down to Plymouth Argyle (2-0) and Portsmouth (2-0), while the the other game was a 0-0 Sixfields draw with Bury.
The Cobblers travel to fellow strugglers Oldham Athletic on Saturday, hoping to put an end to a dismal goalless run that stretches back to Chris Long’s 45th-minute strike in the 2-1 win at Oxford United way back on November 11.
Richards is at a bit of a loss to explain the reasons for the scoreless sequence, especially as it is the second time they have suffered such a rut already this season, the other one stretching more than four games.
The skipper insists that the attacking players are still confident they can do the job.
He says the goals are flying in during training, and the team just need to transfer that form into match days.
“I think we have shown this season that we can create, and we can score goals,” said Richards.
“Every team goes through a drought, and unfortunately this is our second drought, but that is not to say we’re not confident in front of goal.
“We had a finishing practice session ahead of the Portsmouth game, and the standard was outrageously good.
“So we are not going into games thinking ‘oh, we’re not going to score a goal today’, we are going into games full of confidence.”
And he insists that a goal run for the Cobblers is just around the corner, but that ending the drought is not just down to the attacking unit.
“At the moment the ball is not quite dropping for us for one reason or another, and I think it will turn,” he said. "I think we have enough in the dressing room for it to turn, but it is not just about the strikers.
“It’s about the midfield, it’s about the defenders from set-pieces, and it is not just down to the strikers, it is a team thing.”
On a personal note, Richards is in a goalless run that must be one of the lengthiest of his exceptional career.
The 35-year-old hasn’t netted since the 4-1 defeat at Charlton on August 19, a streak that now stretches to 18 appearances.
Richards admits it has been a hugely frustrating spell for him, especially as it’s not as if he has been guilty of wasting a host of chances.
“I don’t think we are creating too many clear-cut chances,” said the former Chesterfield and Port Vale man. “It just seems to be half chances, or half chances we’re not quite getting on the end of, and it is a tough one, and is very frustrating.
“As a centre forward you thrive off service, and at the moment, whether it’s down to the strikers not getting on the end of things or the creative players not creating enough, it seems to be a bit of a combination.
“It is something for us to work on in training, and we do that a lot anyway, but there is room for improvement, put it that way.”
On the face of it, a trip to an Oldham team with the worst defensive record in Sky Bet League One (38 in 20 games) is an ideal chance for Town to break their duck and turn their form around.
But Oldham have improved markedly and tightened up in the past few weeks, conceding just four times in their past six matches.
“Oldham are a good team, they have turned the corner, and they have two strikers playing for them at the moment who are banging in goals for fun,” said Richards, referring to Latics front two Eoin Doyle and Craig Davies, who have scored 21 goals between them this season.
“We are going to have to be at our best to beat them, and it is going to be a tough weekend.
“But we’ll go up there having worked on what we need to work on, whether that’s attacking wise or defensively, as the gaffer has plenty of ideas and plenty of detail to work on, so we will be looking to collect three points.”