FEATURE: Striker Williams unfazed by missed chances and remains confident the goals will flow
Given he was identified as the man to help solve Town's goal shortage, Cobblers fans will be hoping Andy Williams rediscovers his scoring touch sooner rather than later.
His record suggests there’s a strong chance he will too, but as debuts go, it’s unlikely Williams will look back on his first outing as a Town player with much fondness.
Such are the fine margins in football though, it could easily have been so different.
With Town trailing to Matt Green’s 48th-minute header – Lincoln’s only chance of the game – in Saturday’s League Two opener, they were frantically chasing a late equaliser when two wonderful chances fell Williams’ way, one in the 86th minute and another deep into stoppage-time.
The first, a free header from Hakeem Odoffin’s cross, was planted too close to Imps’ inspired ‘keeper Josh Vickers, and Town’s nemesis for the day would intervene one last time, standing up tall to deny Williams when through on goal right at the death.
“It wasn’t a case of having too much time to think about,” said Williams as he discussed his last-gasp miss. “I made runs all day and you wait for that chance to come and it came in the last minute.
“I noticed the goalkeeper spread himself well for (Daniel) Powelly’s chance earlier on so I half tried to lift it over him but maybe if I put it in the corner like I normally do it would have gone in.
“He was lucky to save it with his face. It hit him rather than he saved it but that’s football and more often than not these will start to go in and I’m confident I’ll get goals for us this season.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Vickers thwarted Daniel Powell twice and Sam Hoskins once, making for an immensely frustrating way for Cobblers to start their League Two campaign.
The common school of thought in football is that you’d rather be creating chances and missing them than not creating them at all. And while that’s true, it’s of little consolation if opportunities continue to go begging.
Williams, though, has been around long enough to know all of this. The 31-year-old endured a frustrating, injury-hit campaign at Doncaster Rovers last year when a serious ankle problem kept him out for four months, limiting his number of appearances to just 13.
Across the previous three campaigns, however, he enjoyed far more success with 50 goals to his name, so knowing where the net is and staying cool under pressure is not usually an issue. If he continues to get such clear chances for the rest of the season, you feel he’ll have no problem converting most.
“We had a lot of good chances and I’ll be quite critical of my performance but I won’t beat myself up about it,” he continued.
“I might have done in the past but I’m experienced enough to know now that if I keep getting those chances I’ll score a lot of goals in the league this year.”
That Town were the superior side on Saturday is not up for debate – even Lincoln boss Danny Cowley confessed as much in his post-match interview – but losing, something they’ve done a lot of over the last 12 months, is a habit and a difficult one to get out of.
So as dominant and as encouraging as aspects of their display were, it’s imperative the Cobblers start to turn performances into points if they are to get out of what, at times, has seemed like a never-ending downward spiral.
“It’s important not to be too disappointed,” added Williams, who won promotion from League Two with Doncaster two years ago. “You can’t lose faith after one game.
“It’s just a little reminder of what might be around the corner this season – it won’t be plain-sailing and we’re not going to win every game and cruise to promotion or anything like that
“We’re going to have to dig in and work hard. Lincoln were a good test because they were in the play-offs last season and yet I think we dominated the game and that’s a positive thing for us.
“It’s important for us to keep doing what we’ve been doing and that’s training really hard. I think the lads performed really well and it’s just about being ruthless at both ends in terms of defending and attacking, but nothing is won or lost on the opening day of the season.
“I got promoted out of this league two years ago and we lost on the opening day.
“It was a hard thing to take at the time because you want to win every game but it doesn’t happen like that.
“If we play like that every week, we’ll get the results we need to win promotion.”
The timing of his misses on Saturday could hardly have been any worse but Williams will like get the opportunity to make amends this weekend when Cobblers make the long, arduous trek up to Carlisle United, who also have a new manager this season in John Sheridan.
The former Swindon man added: “Obviously I’m frustrated and I didn’t get much time to get it out of my system. We’re all a bit frustrated but we’ll get on with it and hopefully we’ll win the next game.
“We’ve got a full week to recover and then a long trip up to Carlisle. It’ll be another test for us and we know there are no easy games – it’s an old cliche but you saw what we were up against on Saturday.
“They’re a combative team that I thought we dealt with well and dominated the game but unfortunately we didn’t get the result we deserved.”
Last Saturday’s game also marked Williams’ first competitive run-out at the PTS Academy Stadium, giving him the chance to get to know his new fans.
“The support was brilliant,” he said. “I was interested to see how many we’d get and the lads weren’t sure after the relegation but it was great to see them all come back and cheer us on.
“Hopefully we’ll give them a lot more to cheer about and the fact we didn’t get the points won’t deter them!”