FEATURE: Experienced Moloney keeping his cool in heat of Town survival battle
From managers to team-mates, and from thrilling title triumphs to agonising relegation battles, Brendan Moloney has packed a lot into his three short, yet extremely eventful, years at Sixfields.
And it says a lot for both his ability as a footballer and his character as a person that, while many others have come and gone during that time, he’s remained an important and valued member of the first-team squad, regardless of the manager and regardless of the division.
In these times of great upheaval that have seen sweeping changes right across the playing squad, Moloney is the second longest serving player at the club, just a few months behind John-Joe O’Toole.
Those two, plus David Buchanan and Sam Hoskins, are the only players left from Chris Wilder’s title-winning class of 2016.
But, right now, those glorious days couldn’t seem further away with the Cobblers lingering too close to the league one relegation zone for comfort, just two points above the bottom four.
Moloney, though, is experienced enough to know that this is not the time to panic.
“There’s no denying the fact that every game is now a fight and we have to get points on the board,” he said. “But we’re very confident.
“We’ve got a good dressing room and everyone is fighting for each other and staying positive, which is key.
“There’s 11 games left and we need to make sure, no matter what, that we collect enough points.
“If we keep performing like we did against Oxford on Saturday, it won’t be a problem because we deserved three points.
“There have been games this season when we’ve been a bit inconsistent in how we’ve performed, but we need to stop that and approach every game like we did against Oxford.
“Eventually the ball will drop for us, we’ll get the goals and we’ll get the points we need.”
Town’s latest attempt to stave off an all too swift return to league two came on Saturday when, despite an improved performance, they were held to a goalless draw by Oxford United.
Football is a game of fine margins and this was one of those afternoons where the boos at full-time could easily have been roars of relief had Town managed to locate the net when the opportunities arose.
For 20 minutes in the first half, the Cobblers were about as threatening as they’ve been all season.
They played with energy, pressed high and created chances.
Matt Crooks was again the driving force from midfield, Gboly Ariyibi supplied the flair from the left and O’Toole knitted everything together but, crucially, the home side, and Chris Long in particular, could not turn several clear chances into goals.
And that failure in front of goal only served to give Oxford the belief to grow into the game and end it on top, almost snatching three points themselves when Wes Thomas headed the ball against the outside of the post from six yards just five minutes before the full-time whistle.
“We had enough chances to win,” added Moloney. “In the first-half we could have been two or three ahead but it just didn’t go in for us.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t get three points but we got a clean sheet and we didn’t lose the game so if you’re looking for positives, it’s those.
“It would have been a lovely game to win against a team like Oxford and for the home fans but it just wasn’t to be.”
The major talking point after the game related to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s post-match comments when the Town manager criticised the small group of home fans who booed his team off at the full-time whistle.
Moloney continued: “The fans have come here and want us to win the game, especially against Oxford. It wasn’t to be and they can boo if they want to, that’s their opinion.
“But we just can’t let it affect us and remain positive.”
Despite knee troubles still giving him occasional grief, the 29-year-old Irishman has made more appearances this term - 32 - than in each of his full two seasons at Sixfields, and yet he’s perhaps facing the biggest threat to his place in the team in young Shay Facey.
The 23-year-old impressed virtually everyone in his first four outings for the club before a hamstring injury opened the door for Moloney.
With Facey now back fit, Hasselbaink has a decision to make.
“I just have to keep working hard and keep doing the best I can, that’s all you can do,” said Moloney. “It’s up to the manager which team he picks.
“I’ll train hard and I always believe in myself no matter what anyone says.
“Hopefully I’m picked and I’ll be ready to play.”