Jeremy Casey’s Bristol Rovers v Cobblers view and player ratings

STRONG PEFORMANCE - Ishmel Demontagnac (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
STRONG PEFORMANCE - Ishmel Demontagnac (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
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Another road trip, another defeat, another blank in front of goal.

That’s three away games for the Cobblers this season, and the stats don’t make for pretty reading.

P 3 W 0 D 0 L3 F0 A 4 Pts 0

Now I have to hold my hands up here and say that Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Bristol Rovers was the first time I had seen the Cobblers this season.

I went to the Memorial Stadium not really knowing what to expect, with some observers I had asked telling me the team has played well in patches, others saying Town have been poor, and others painting a picture of doom and gloom.

Well, on the evidence of Saturday’s game, I could easily agree with all the above sentiments!

But the first thing to say is that the Cobblers didn’t deserve to lose the game.

The fairest result would have been a draw.

Northampton didn’t play well, and neither did Bristol Rovers in what was a poor game of football.

The Cobblers it has to be said were also handicapped by the late withdrawals of Joe Widdowson (hamstring), Ian Morris (groin) and Danny Emerton (illness).

A firm pitch and a stiff wind blowing from corner to corner also meant the conditions weren’t conducive to flowing football, and that was certainly how it panned out - although the limitations of both sets of players didn’t help either.

On the plus side, the catastrophic opening two minutes aside, the Cobblers were fairly solid defensively, with Matt Duke not having a save to make after picking Tom Lockyer’s header out of the net after just 84 seconds.

The team worked hard and showed plenty of aggression, as the six yellow cards and one red received by the men in claret suggests.

There were also flashes, all too rare admittedly, of the brand of passing football that manager Aidy Boothroyd says he wants the team to play this season.

But the big the minus is clear to see, and is a worrying one.

For all of their effort in the game, and possession of the ball, the Cobblers barely created a chance all afternoon.

Clive Platt, named skipper for the day in his first start since the play-off final in May, saw a first-half header saved by Steve Mildenhall, while Chris Hackett smacked the post with a beauty of a free-kick late on.

Yes, they also should have had at least two penalties, maybe even three, but that was more or less it.

And on the evidence of Saturday’s game the lack of goals is going to be the main issue for the Cobblers this season.

Who is going to score them? Especially away from home.

The inexperienced Jacob Blyth, who was dropped to make way for Platt at Bristol, has scored a couple so far this term but both at Sixfields, as has Roy O’Donovan, but the Irishman was living off scraps at the Memorial Stadium.

He barely had a ball actually passed to his feet, and he got more and more frustrated with every passing minute, ultimately leading to his dismisal for two late yellow cards.

The fact is, if the team don’t give O’Donovan the ball, he’s not going to be able to score, while even Platt himself would admit he is never going to be prolific in front of goal.

With Alex Nicholls out until at least the new year, and summer signing JJ Hooper seemingly not yet enjoying the faith of the manager - youth teamer Ivan Toney was the choice for a late attacking cameo at Bristol while Hooper stayed benched - the striking options look very limited at Sixfields.

Boothroyd said throughout the summer that the team is light in the attacking department, and with one day left of the transfer window remaining, that is still the case.

Of course, the loan market remains open beyond tomorrow, and it could be that Boothroyd already has an ace up his sleeve that he will reveal in the coming weeks.

Every Cobblers fan, particularly the 299 that travelled to Bristol, will be hoping that is the case.

Because if it isn’t, and goals remain as hard to come by on the road as they have been in the opening three games of the campaign, then this could be a long, long season.

Player ratings

Matt Duke – no chance with the early goal, and then not very much to do. Good handling 5

Ben Tozer – looked uncomfortable at right-back against lively winger Harrison, but stuck at it 5

Matt Heath – towering in the air, should gave had a penalty, but distribution was, at times, wasteful 5

Lee Collins – solid no-nonsense performance at the heart of the defence alongside Heath 5

Kevin Amankwaah – caught napping at the back post for the goal, but improved. Copped plenty of stick for being an ex-Bristol City man 5

Chris Hackett – grew into the game after slow start, so unlucky with late free-kick 5

Gary Deegan – worked tirelessly and tackled hard, but was left frustrated as he couldn’t influence attacking play 5

Darren Carter – no questioning his work-rate, but dead ball distribution was very poor 5

Ishmel Demontagnac – a good day for the winger whose attitude was good. He was lively until his substitution. Pick of the bunch 6

Clive Platt – skipper for the day struggled to get hold of the ball in final third, and didn’t win enough headers 5

Roy O’Donovan – works so hard, but was constantly chasing hopeful balls. Needs more quality service. Frustration led to his harsh dismissal 5


Blyth (for Demontagnac, 73m) put himself about, but made little impression 5

Toney (for Amankwaah, 86m)

Not used: Snedker, Hooper, Roberts, Harriott