Cobblers defender Zander Diamond is delighted with the way his side’s ever-improving defensive resolve has played a key role in their rise to the top this season.
The 30-year-old has been an important member of a back four that’s kept five clean sheets in the last six games, with Russell Penn’s late wonder goal at York the only time Northampton’s defence has been breached in almost 600 minutes of football.
And it’s little surprise that Cobblers’ new-found defensive resilience has coincided with Diamond’s excellent run of form.
While many of the plaudits have gone to his centre-back partner Rod McDonald, the dependable Diamond has gone quietly about his business in effective fashion with his contribution to the side reflected in the statistics.
This season, Northampton concede an average of 0.8 goals per game when Diamond is in the team compared to 1.4 when the 30-year-old doesn’t feature.
As a result of both Diamond’s form and the team’s recent sturdiness, the Cobblers now boast the division’s fourth best defensive record behind Plymouth, Wycombe and Portsmouth.
Diamond said this week: “I think at the start of the season we played open, expansive football and left ourselves a bit vulnerable at the back.
“We’ve managed to fine tune that and I think that’s been evident in the last 10 or 12 games because we’re a more solid unit and a lot of people are contributing more on the talking side of things.
“That only comes naturally with playing together each week and it’s very pleasing to be racking up clean sheets.
“The important thing is if we don’t win, we don’t lose the game.”
The latest clean sheet came at Hartlepool United on Saturday when Northampton’s 10-game winning run was ended by a goalless draw against the League Two strugglers after a game desperately short on drama.
“There was obviously a bit of disappointment,” added Diamond. “We were on an incredible run but it was always going to come to an end at some point.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game and Hartlepool applied themselves really well.
“We had a couple of chances early on which might have changed the whole complexion of the game, but to come away from home against a team fighting relegation, and I’ve been there with Northampton a couple of years ago, and to get a clean sheet from a defensive point of view, we’ve got to be happy with that.”
Diamond also had encouraging words for his new centre-back partner Luke Prosser who impressed on debut during Saturday’s draw after replacing the ill McDonald on 27 minutes.
The Scotsman added: “Prosser came in and did really well.
“He’s an experienced boy and the manager brought him to replace Rod who had a bit of a sickness bug.
“He applied himself really well, won his headers and won his tackles and from a defensive point of view, it’s nice to have somebody to slot in and you don’t really need to coach them.”