Confidence not an issue for shot-shy Cobblers, insists skipper Richards

SHUT OUT AGAIN: Marc Richards did have the ball in the net on Saturday but his strike was ruled out for offside. Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds
SHUT OUT AGAIN: Marc Richards did have the ball in the net on Saturday but his strike was ruled out for offside. Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds

Captain Marc Richards insists there’s no shortage of confidence among himself or his team-mates despite the Cobblers now going five straight league games without scoring, dropping them into the Sky Bet League One bottom four as a result.

Matt Crooks’ first-half strike at Southend United three weeks ago remains the last time Town found the net in a league game, some 500 minutes of football ago.

It was felt Saturday’s visit of Bristol Rovers would present an excellent opportunity to end that barren run given that the Pirates are yet to keep a clean sheet in the league all season.

But despite the visitors missing both of their first-choice centre-backs and having a 19-year-old debutant in as a replacement, Northampton were once again unable to find their scoring boots as they struggled to seriously test Rovers goalkeeper Sam Slocombe.

Between them, Northampton’s main three strikers – Alex Revell (one), Chris Long (two) and Richards (one) – have combined for just four goals in 12 League One games.

“It’s not a confidence issue,” said Richards afterwards. “We’re not hitting the back of the net regularly at the moment but I don’t think the strikers here are lacking confidence, whether it’s myself, Revs, Longy, Sammy (Sam Hoskins) or whoever plays up top.

“We’ve got a confident group and a good group but things just aren’t quite coming off for us at the moment for one reason or another.

“It’s not clicking on a regular basis. We’re playing in patches really and it should be a lot more consistent.”

Northampton’s quest for goals in the immediate future will not be helped by the enforced absence of Revell, who faces a three-game ban after he was sent off for an apparent elbow during Saturday’s home defeat.

“I was really close to it and he’s not the type of person to swing an elbow like that,” added Richards. “He’s a big guy and he uses his body and his arms to hold players off.

“I think that was the case. He tried to hold the centre-half off and he caught him in the face but I don’t think it was intentional and I certainly don’t think there was a swing of the arm in the direction of the player.

“For me, it’s a little bit harsh. He’s caught him but it’s accidental.”