Jefferson Lake’s Chesterfield preview: Away form simply has to improve
The subject of the 4-0 defeat at Barnet was raised during this week’s Sixfields press conference with Cobblers boss Aidy Boothroyd.
He did not quite wince at the mention of the worst performance his players have produced this season, but it was a reminder that they still have to improve their away record before a successful season can be contemplated.
A total from 10 points from 11 away games is relegation form.
Wimbledon, in 22nd in league two, have won more than twice as many away games in the league as Northampton.
It has to be a concern.
In the club’s past two promotions, as is generally the case with any successful team, the away form was of paramount importance.
Colin Calderwood’s class of 2006 were a team that kept things tight with a defence-minded 5-3-2 system that was perfectly suited to getting results on the road.
That side actually lost more games at Sixfields (four) than they did on their travels (three) and they really finished the season with a bang, winning at Boston United, Peterborough, Darlington and Oxford United during a run-in that all but sealed promotion to league one.
That end-of-season momentum, though, was nothing compared to the white-hot form Kelvin Wilson’s team were in for the final month of the 1999-2000 campaign.
They won all of their final six games, keeping five clean sheets in the process.
More impressively, four of those were away from home - at Carlisle, Darlington, Rochdale and, of course, Torquay United.
The momentum both those teams had bordered on unrelenting during the season’s final furlong and, with three wins on the bounce under their belts, the current crop will be experiencing a similar snowballing effect of confidence and timing.
What they need to improve, though, is their defensive resilience.
There were glimpses of that in the most recent road trip, a 1-1 draw at Torquay but the previous game, at Oxford, was an error-strewn affair.
Prior to that was the all-conquering Aldershot win, a near miss in the FA Cup with a weakened side against Bradford and a tidy stalemate at York City with a team reduced to 10 men by Louis Moult’s sending-off.
Which takes us all the way back to Barnet, and the season’s low watermark.
The team has improved away from home - substantially from that dark night, comfortably the worst performance of the season - but they still need to tighten up on their travels, because they still have to visit seven of the eight teams above them in the league two table.
Things are unlikely to ever be as bad as they were that night at Barnet.
But they need to be a little better than they are now if this team is to start getting the kind of away results that they have regularly produced on Sixfields soil.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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