FEATURE: Keeper Cornell ready to take his chance when it comes

David Cornell impressed in goal during last weekend's defeat at Portsmouth
David Cornell impressed in goal during last weekend's defeat at Portsmouth

Making it as a professional footballer isn’t easy... and making it as a goalkeeper is even harder.

After all, any given week there are only 92 places up for grabs across the top four divisions in English football.

Most clubs will still have two, three, four or perhaps even more goalkeepers in their squads of course, but only one can play for each team every Saturday, Tuesday or ‘Super Sunday’.

A goalkeeper can’t be a utility man, can’t reinvent himself if he finds his way to the first team and the buzz of a match day blocked.

No, a substitute, or back-up goalkeeper just has to sit there and bide his time.

He still has to go to work every day, still has to train every day, still has to try to impress, still has to travel to every game, still has to prepare as if he is playing - but then has to sit on the bench.

That is, until he gets the chance to get out and play. and then he can show what he is all about.

That was certainly what David Cornell did in the Checkatrade Trophy clash at Portsmouth last Saturday.

As has been the case in the competition throughout this season, with number one Matt Ingram given the weekend off, Cornell got some all-too-rare game time, and he took the chance with both hands.

The Welshman was the Cobblers’ best player as they were beaten 2-0 by Pompey, but he knows he will likely have to step aside to make way for Ingram when Town resume Sky Bet League One hostilities this weekend at Oldham Athletic.

It’s not an ideal situation for him of course, but it is one he accepts as part of the job.

“It is frustrating, but you are just waiting for that opportunity really, and you have to make sure that when it comes you take it,” said the former Swansea City man.

“It is tough to stay sitting on the sidelines at times, but you just have to get stuck into it, and the other things.

“There is the gym-work that you do, and you make sure it’s not just the hour, or hour-and-a-half when you are training, it’s everything off the pitch that you are doing to benefit yourself if you do get the opportunity.”

One big thing that makes life at the Cobblers enjoyable for Cornell, is the relationship between him and the club’s other shot-stoppers, Ingram, Luke Coddington and youngster James Goff.

“There are the three of us, and we have Goffy as well, and they are all good lads,” said Cornell.

“We push each other every day, we all enjoy it and have a laugh, and I think that’s a good thing.

“I have been involved with some keepers who have not been great in the goalkeepers’ union shall we say, but it’s great at Northampton.

“We push each other every week and that is what you want.

“If Matt gets injured then I’ll step in and I feel I can do a job, and then even if I got injured, then Coddy is there and he can do a job as well, so it’s all good.”

The Checkatrade Trophy may be much maligned, with some fans boycotting it due to the inclusion of under-21 teams from the Premier League and Championship, with just 1,780 turning up at Fratton Park last weekend - but you won’t hear Cornell having a pop.

“For lads who aren’t playing every week, like myself at the moment, I think it is a good opportunity,” said Cornell.

“I know there weren’t many fans there on Saturday, but it is a cup where realistically it is probably your best chance of getting to Wembley, or winning something.

“It does have a lot of negatives from the fans’ point of view, but from the players’ point of view it’s another game.

“It has positives. It’s a game of football, we’re footballers, so we go out and enjoy it.”

Cornell started the season as Justin Edinburgh’s number one pick, playing the first four games, and had a spell in goal in place of Adam Smith under Rob Page last season.

In all he has made 19 starts in all competitions in his 18 months at the club.

His contract expires next summer, and he admits he is open to extending his stay at the club.

“Since I have come into the club I have enjoyed it,” said the 26-year-old.

“I have not played as many games as I think I probably should have, but every manager I have had has been as good as gold with me.

“The lads are great as well and I have enjoyed it, and obviously if there was something there for me to stay then I probably would look at it.”