Jefferson Lake’s Cobblers v Cheltenham view: Town must stick to what they do best

LETHAL WEAPON - Ben Tozer's long throw is proving difficult to defend agains this season
LETHAL WEAPON - Ben Tozer's long throw is proving difficult to defend agains this season

For many years, the focal point of opposing managers’ pre-match conversations has been the necessity to stop Adebayo Akinfenwa.

Whenever I am comparing notes with a counterpart elsewhere in the world of league two journalism, the name of the big man would inevitably crop up.

MNCE - Sports desk pics.'Jefferson Lake.

MNCE - Sports desk pics.'Jefferson Lake.

In the case of Cheltenham, dealing with Akinfenwa is essential - no player has scored more goals against them since they became a Football League club.

But when Mark Yates, who will occupy the away dug-out at Sixfields on Saturday, briefed the press about the prospect of a trip to Northampton, he also stressed the importance of dealing with the Ben Tozer throw.

Town have scored 11 goals from this method this season, and five of them have come from the head of Akinfenwa.

It is a tactic that is as simplistic as it is brutally effective, and has been pared down even further this year - last time around, the plan was to launch it to the near post where it would be missed or flicked on to someone to attack it at the back post.

Nowadays, Tozer just throws it straight onto Akinfenwa’s head, and he usually puts it straight in.

What the Cobblers need to do this weekend is focus on the things they do best, however obvious they are to their opposition and the scouts that have compiled reports on their behalf.

One of the most telling comments of the season so far came from Morecambe boss Jim Bentley, a bareknuckle manager who speaks exactly as he finds in an unrelenting Scouse brogue.

He remarked that, while his team had spent hours practising a way to prevent Northampton profiting from the throw, when it came to the crunch they were simply unable to do anything about the real thing.

So everyone knows what’s coming.

They know they will have to pick up Kelvin Langmead at corners, too, and that Chris Hackett is an excellent runner at speed with the ball, and probably needs to be double-marked.

But these are the things the current Town side does best.

The game plan is working and, rather than tweaking, needs adhering to with an absolute strictness.