Jefferson Lake’s Cobblers v Accrington view and player ratings: Roy looking the part

GET IN THERE! - Roy O'Donovan celebrates his goal against Accrington (Picture: Kelly Cooper)

GET IN THERE! - Roy O'Donovan celebrates his goal against Accrington (Picture: Kelly Cooper)

5
Have your say

Aidy Boothroyd mentioned Alex Nicholls’ name during his post-match assessment of the Cobblers’ latest Sixfields success.

It was not in relation to a particular question about the player’s progress from his broken leg or even in reference to the forwards the Town manager currently has at his disposal.

But there must have been something to start such a train of thought and there is a good chance that something was the performance of Roy O’Donovan, who was fouled for the free-kick that Chris Hackett scored for Northampton’s first goal and then notched the second himself to complete yet another home win.

It’s now 14 victories on Sixfields soil for this season, who can be relied on to win home games with the same regularity that they lose away ones.

They walk out onto their own pitch with a real swagger and seem to dispose of sides regardless of their actual performance, although this one was much-improved on the ones against Plymouth Argyle and Bristol Rovers.

O’Donovan was their best player in win number 14, playing with the kind of industry of which Scott McGleish would have been proud, and marrying it to a high skill level and intensity.

Nicholls’ name has been in the background ever since his awful double fracture against Port Vale way back in October.

There is a school of thought that if the current side does not achieve its now openly-stated aim of automatic promotion this season, the absence of a player who looked full of goals (and even fuller of confidence) might be the decisive factor.

Certainly the defeat at Exeter City - in which the class of Jamie Cureton was the difference between two talented sides - was one where a centre-forward made all the difference.

There have been others, too. Marc Richards was all powerful at Chesterfield and Cody McDonald had a big influence on that blustery night at Gillingham.

But O’Donovan may be able to fill Nicholls’ boots over the final nine games of the season - on the evidence so far he seems a like-for-like replacement and one who is getting sharper and more confident every week.

Unless he can score the volume of goals Nicholls did during his spell it would be unfair to make too many comparisons.

O’Donovan, though, is looking the part, and his January deadline-day signing may prove a very timely one.

Player ratings

LEE NICHOLLS

Handling was excellent and he had to earn his clean sheet with a fine double save late in the game ...8

BEN TOZER

Played marginally better in central midfield than he did in his now traditional right-back role ...7

CLARKE CARLISLE

A really encouraging and error-free display in which he won more or less all of his individual battles ...8

KELVIN LANGMEAD

A quieter-than-usual afternoon for the skipper who stuck to his task well and played his part in a clean sheet ...7

JOE WIDDOWSON

A steady enough display from Mr Consistency on his return to familiar left-back ground ...7

CHRIS HACKETT

Explosive free-kick settled the early nerves and played well in patches but conceded some cheap free-kicks ...7

LEWIS HORNBY

Put himself about in what might have been his most combative performance for the club so far ...7

BEN HARDING

A no-frills performance and his set-piece delivery was very strong throughout ...7

ISHMEL DEMONTAGNAC

There were more positives than negatives about his performances but the winger remains a deeply enigmatic talent ...7

ROY O’DONOVAN

The pick of the bunch on the day - married his bottomless energy with a veneer of quality ...8

CLIVE PLATT

Retained possession at all times, although he was often crowded out of things ...7

Substitutes:

JOHN JOHNSON (for Hornby 66)

A couple of typically spiky and Johnson-esque challenges after his tactical introduction ...6

ADEBAYO AKINFENWA (for Platt 71)

Kept at arm’s length by a defence against whom he scored three in November ...6

JAKE ROBINSON (for Hackett 74)

Brought some energy to the party as the team picked up the tempo in the game’s final stages ...6

Not used: Guttridge, Collins,, Snedker,, Dias