Whilst it would be fair to say Northampton’s fortunes as a team have improved since January 7 and their 5-0 humbling at Bristol Rovers, Paul Anderson’s personal frustrations during the same period of time have only increased with each passing week.
The significance of that fateful trip to the West Country, aside from it being Rob Page’s final game in charge, comes in the fact that it represents the last time Anderson started a match of any nature for the Cobblers, prior to Saturday’s game against Oxford United.
He’s made a handful of late substitute appearances, as well as featuring in two behind closed doors friendlies, but Edinburgh’s preferred midfield four has left the former Bradford City man to bide his time and watch on the sidelines.
Thanks to the misfortune of others, however, he was finally given a precious opportunity to impress the new boss when Oxford came to town at the weekend.
With John-Joe O’Toole and Luke Williams both ruled out through injury, Anderson was named on the right side of a midfield diamond and proceeded to be the architect of the game’s major incident when his mazy run culminated in a penalty, only to then see Simon Eastwood keep out Matty Taylor’s spot-kick.
Nevertheless, Anderson’s hard-working and busy performance would not have gone unnoticed by Edinburgh, who was keen to praise the 28-year-old midfielder afterwards, commenting: “Paul came in and he did very, very well and I’m pleased for him because he’s had to be patient.”
The challenge now for Anderson is to win a regular place in the side.
“Every single player will say the same - it’s so frustrating when you’re sat there and watching,” he said on his time out of the team.
“To be fair, I think I’ve been one of the first players to come off the bench in most of the games and I’ve been working hard.
“I’ve been playing in the reserves and I’ve done everything I’ve been asked of.
As a footballer it’s not nice when your career is out of your control but I work hard and I think you see when I play I give 110 per cent.
“Sometimes, as a footballer it’s not nice when your career is out of your control, but I work hard and I think you see when I play I give 110 per cent.
“I was given an opportunity on Saturday and hopefully I’ve done enough to warrant a start in the next game.”
The point against Oxford was a significant one in that it took Northampton to 50 for the season, although it could have been so much better had they not missed their third penalty from their last four attempts.
Taylor was the guilty party on this occasion after Marc Richards had missed his previous two, but Anderson has full confidence in whoever steps up next time.
“Anyone who steps up and takes a penalty, you have to take your hat off to them,” he added.
“People think it’s one of the easiest jobs in football and nine out of 10 times you will score but I think we’ve just had a bit of bad luck.
“Taylor’s got an unbelievable left foot and there’s no reason why he wouldn’t take them again or even Rico who’s practiced a few in training.
“They’re the guys that, if you’re confident in taking it, then step up and have a go.”
Oxford too missed a golden chance to win Saturday’s game, Kane Hemmings denied by the feet of Adam Smith, who also brilliantly tipped Joe Rothwell’s curler onto the crossbar.
All in all, it was a point gained and a step nearer safety.
“I think it was a tough game,” admitted Anderson. “They play some half decent football and we put in a good shift.
“We worked our socks off and we had a couple of chances, they had a couple of chances and overall the draw was pretty fair.”
On the penalty incident, Anderson continued: “I think it’s one of those where if the goalkeeper had stood up it wouldn’t have been a penalty but he clattered through me and if you get there before the keeper you’re always going to get a penalty and it was a clear penalty for me.”