Northampton Town 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 0 - Jefferson Lake’s view and ratings

OPPORTUNIRY MISSED - Lawson D'Ath misses a gilt-edged first-half chance against Dagenham (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)
OPPORTUNIRY MISSED - Lawson D'Ath misses a gilt-edged first-half chance against Dagenham (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)

Ricky Holmes made the headlines for the Cobblers on Saturday but this was a complete team performance in which all 10 outfield players made important contributions.

The on-loan Portsmouth winger scored an excellent goal to win the game and is playing like a man with a point to prove; which, given the nature of his Fratton Park exit, is not exactly surprising.

Cobblers V Dagenham & Redbridge.'John-Joe O'Toole. NNL-150118-013247009

Cobblers V Dagenham & Redbridge.'John-Joe O'Toole. NNL-150118-013247009

In this game he was a whirling dervish of a player, a ball of energy both in and out of possession and a constant menace to the visiting Dagenham defenders.

And he wasn’t the only one - Lawson D’Ath, a player of similar stature and hairstyle, albeit with a less impressive beard, provided good industry on the opposite wing.

D’Ath also plays like someone with something to prove and the Cobblers are benefiting from both players’ determination to be an effective player despite doubts being cast from others far from Sixfields.

Their attacking play is what catches the eye but they are both very good at closing down their full-backs, and in this regard the team is now one which is capable of ‘defending from the front’, as the old cliche goes.

Cobblers V Dagenham & Redbridge.'Marc Richards. NNL-150118-013236009

Cobblers V Dagenham & Redbridge.'Marc Richards. NNL-150118-013236009

This higher-tempo approach might be the key change in the January alterations. It certainly felt like it on Saturday.

D’Ath and Holmes were well supported by the players being them, Brendan Moloney at right-back and Evan Horwood at left-back, both of whom like to overlap and both of whom are capable of producing good crosses.

This is an important strand of the team’s functionality; while Gregor Robertson and Ben Tozer are capable and solid players, they will not add the attacking dimension from full-back that the current holders of the jersey do.

It is a curious fact that, despite being more attack-minded as a team, the Cobblers have collected back-to-back clean sheets and have not conceded since Shaquile Coulthirst capitalised on a Matt Duke error to score for Southend at Sixfields a fortnight ago.

Cobblers V Dagenham & Redbridge.'Brendon Moloney. NNL-150118-013225009

Cobblers V Dagenham & Redbridge.'Brendon Moloney. NNL-150118-013225009

Duke himself had virtually nothing to do against Dagenham, whose attack was toothless or either constantly offside. It was noted with only partial humour that the only time Rhys Murphy was onside was after he had been substituted and was sat in the away dug-out.

Only sporadically did they visit the Northampton half and the home side could easily have won by more than their single goal - they almost scored three times in the first 10 minutes of the match.

There was a clear gulf in class between the sides and while you would never rule anything out, on this evidence Northampton do not belong in the same bracket as league two’s struggling sides.

It is surely only a matter of time before their league position bears that testimony.

Cobblers V Dagenham & Redbridge.'Marc Richards. NNL-150118-013214009

Cobblers V Dagenham & Redbridge.'Marc Richards. NNL-150118-013214009

Player ratings

MATT DUKE

One first-half misjudgement aside, this was almost an afternoon off for Duke, who didn’t have a meaningful save to make all day ...7

BRENDAN MOLONEY

Has been a breath of fresh air at right-back, where he provides an attacking threat, a good delivery and defensive resilience ...8 STAR MAN

RYAN CRESSWELL

Cobblers V Dagenham & Redbridge.'Jason Taylor. NNL-150118-013108009

Cobblers V Dagenham & Redbridge.'Jason Taylor. NNL-150118-013108009

Will feel he should have scored in the first 10 minutes of the game when he twice had efforts cleared off the line and then headed wide when he should have done better ...7

LEE COLLINS

Made a couple of uncharacteristic errors in possession but was solid otherwise and part of a well-functioning offside trap which paved the way for another clean sheet ...7

EVAN HORWOOD

Played some excellent crosses into the box and, like Moloney on the other side, got forward as well as getting back and getting his challenges in ...8

LAWSON D’ATH

Another very good performance, full of energy right up until the final minute of the game. If there is a negative, it’s that he really should have scored in the first half ...8

JASON TAYLOR

Has been a vital addition to the midfield and is bringing the best out of Byrom, with the balance in that department of the team looking very good ...7

JOEL BYROM

Did not enjoy the same level of dominance he did at Exeter in the previous game but was still an influence and is producing some lovely passing play at the moment ...7

RICKY HOLMES

Showed very good footwork to evade a couple of defenders and find space for the shot which settled the game and was running hard with the game in injury time ...8

JOHN-JOE O’TOOLE

This is the player the club thought they had signed in the summer and he is getting better with every game. His back-heeled volley at goal would have been a truly special goal ...8

MARC RICHARDS

Although he did not score, he still had a big influence on the game, often playing as the false nine and dragging defenders out to make space for O’Toole ...8

Substitutes:

CHRIS HACKETT (for O’Toole 84)

IVAN TONEY (for Holmes 90)

Not used: Snedker, Robertson, Carter, Tozer, Diamond

Cobblers V Dagenham & Redbridge.'Jason Taylor. NNL-150118-013057009

Cobblers V Dagenham & Redbridge.'Jason Taylor. NNL-150118-013057009