Jefferson Lake’s Bradford v Cobblers view and player ratings: Town get lucky again

BEST OF A BAD BUNCH - Lee Collins keeps the ball away from Nahki Wells at Valley Parade on Saturday (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
BEST OF A BAD BUNCH - Lee Collins keeps the ball away from Nahki Wells at Valley Parade on Saturday (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
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So it turns out it won’t be the Cobblers’ away form that decides their fate this season but the results of the teams trying to hunt down their third-place status.

Northampton should have been punished for their second successive 1-0 defeat on Saturday and the reason they were not was the unpredictable nature of the division this season.

It was hugely improbable that they would get away with another no-show and yet they did.

Aidy Boothroyd’s men did not really do enough in the game to get the win and their only shot of any note came from Ben Harding midway through the second half.

A lack of accuracy meant they were reliant on scrambles at set plays but while Bradford played with more precision, it still took an error to gift them their decisive goal.

Referee Trevor Kettle was awful throughout - his clear lack of fitness meant he often guessed at decisions, usually aided by the home team’s vast and vociferous support.

His incessant whistle-blowing hurt Town’s momentum during their attempted comeback in the second half but, just like on Easter Monday, events elsewhere had a larger bearing on the bigger picture than what was happening in the team’s own game.

One way of looking at it is that this was a major chance missed. A win would have put the Cobblers three clear of Cheltenham with a game in hand and very much in the box seat with a game at fortress Sixfields next on the schedule.

But it has to go down as another bullet dodged. It seemed implausible that they would get lucky two weeks in a row but that is exactly what happened, with Cheltenham, Rotherham, Exeter City and Burton Albion all losing too.

Which is probably why Boothroyd said afterwards that his gut feeling is that this could be his team’s year. Nobody seems to want to go up in third although Gillingham have clinched first and Port Vale seem to have got their act together sufficiently well enough to take second.

To get that lucky not once but twice suggests some higher power is smiling down on Northampton. Except it’s not really about luck, it’s about the ‘anyone can beat anyone’ nature of league two.

If the current side win all four of their remaining games they will finish on 80 points - that would have seen them scrape sixth place in the division last year but could well be enough to take them straight up this time around.

It is an inconsistent league and the only reason Northampton are where they are is because of their matchless consistency on their own ground.

Away from home, for a whole variety of reasons, returns remain as poor as they have been all season. But the way it’s going, that might not even matter.

Jefferson’s player ratings

LEE NICHOLLS

Has to take some of the blame for the decisive goal but produced some good saves ...5

JOHN JOHNSON

Had his work cut out with the talented Reid but can feel pleased with his day’s work ...6

CLARKE CARLISLE

Competed well with Hanson but had no answer to the pace of Wells, which stretched the visiting defence all game ...6

LEE COLLINS

The Cobblers’ best player on the day, was aggressive throughout and composed when in possession ...7

NATHAN CAMERON

A debut to forget for the youngster who looked nervous and overawed from the start ...4

JOE WIDDOWSON

Tried to stay competitive even after somewhat harshly collecting his 14th booking of the season ...6

CHRIS HACKETT

The odd flash of brilliance but stumbled when in a good position on two or three occasions ...5

BEN HARDING

His volley was the best it got for Northampton and for the midfielder himself on an individual basis ...5

BEN TOZER

Midfield was often bypassed, although Tozer did have one or two bright pieces of possession ...6

ISHMEL DEMONTAGNAC

Before pulling his hamstring on 34 minutes, the winger’s only contribution of note was a booking for dissent ...4

ROY O’DONOVAN

A willing runner throughout and was unlucky not to win a penalty for what was a clear foul by Davies ...6

Substitutes

JAKE ROBINSON (for Demontagnac, 34mins)

As game as ever but his final ball let him down when in some good positions ...5

ADEBAYO AKINFENWA (for Cameron, 46mins)

A foul was awarded against the striker when he was wiped out by Bradford goalkeeper McLaughlin. The incident summed up his game ...5

Not used: Snedker, Guttridge, Platt, Hornby, Dias