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Jefferson Lake’s Cobblers v Fleetwood view and player ratings

WELCOME RETURN - Luke Guttridge added steel to the Cobblers midfield against Fleetwood (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

WELCOME RETURN - Luke Guttridge added steel to the Cobblers midfield against Fleetwood (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

 

The win over Fleetwood Town on Saturday represents the clearest indication yet that this is a Cobblers team that is capable of challenging for promotion this season.

They went into the game with some real momentum and in a rich seam of form at home but knowing it would represent a serious test of their mettle.

Aidy Boothroyd was right to call it a barometer and he was right to celebrate how well his players had measured up against a group who many expect will finish in the top seven this season.

It is a victory that means they have now won more games on their own ground than any other league side (nine from 14) and amassed 29 of their 39 points at Sixfields.

Although they must improve their away form - just two league wins have been collected on the team’s travels, at Accrington and Dagenham - winning against a top side, albeit at home, represents the clearing of a significant hurdle and a substantial statement to the rest of the division.

It is the games against the top teams that will most probably ultimately decide the fate of the current side.

Of the eight teams above them only Fleetwood themselves have provided the opposition for an away fixture in what is now a nine/12 split in home/away games between now and the end of the season.

Northampton will need to make huge improvements to their away form through that period if they are to be considered genuine promotion contenders but having disposed of Fleetwood with such relative ease they will go into those games with some confidence.

The expectation level for this season was, after a rocky couple of years, mid-table stability. But with every passing game, particularly those at Sixfields, the bar is being moved every so slightly higher.

Jefferson’s ratings

LEE NICHOLLS

Will be disappointed not to keep a clean sheet on an afternoon on which he was rarely overworked ...7

BEN TOZER

Contained a very difficult opponent in Junior Brown, who very often played almost as an out-and-out left-winger ...8

KELVIN LANGMEAD

Another near faultless performance from the captain who is getting better with every game ...8

CLARKE CARLISLE

Made one or two bad decisions and conceded a couple of cheap fouls but good for the majority of the game ...7

JOE WIDDOWSON

Sloppy tackle for his booking but was caused virtually no problems by his man ...7

CHRIS HACKETT

Was Northampton’s best player yet again. Created two goals, won countless free-kicks and threatened every time he got it ...8

BEN HARDING

Recovered from a nasty kick on the ankle to turn in a midfield performance of great assurance ...7

LUKE GUTTRIDGE

Still feeling his way back but his pugnacious qualities were a notable addition in midfield, where Fleetwood perished ...7

JAKE ROBINSON

A willing runner, executed his goal like a veteran number nine and caused problems from his wide position ...7

CLIVE PLATT

In his past three games, has scored two and made two. Married brute force to a calmness in possession and a passing precision in this one ...8

ADEBAYO AKINFENWA

A quiet afternoon but played a part in the third goal and made space for others with his combative play ...7

Substitutes:

LEWIS HORNBY (for Guttridge 74)

Will accept his relegation to the bench with professional grace and knows he can be called upon to do a job ...7

Moult (for Platt 78)

Demontagnac (for Robinson 83)

Not used: Charles, Snedker, Wilson, Turnbull

 

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