Keeper Ward ‘disappointed’ by lack of game-time but vows to ‘keep fighting’ for league starts

Four of Lewis Ward's five apppearances this season have come in the Checkatrade Trophy
Four of Lewis Ward's five apppearances this season have come in the Checkatrade Trophy

Goalkeeper Lewis Ward admits he has been ‘disappointed’ by his lack of game-time so far this season, but he’s vowed to ‘keep fighting’ in the hope of dislodging David Cornell as Cobblers’ number one between the posts.

Despite signing on loan from Reading just a week before the season started, Ward has spent much of the campaign sitting on the bench and watching Cornell, who’s played every league game since being preferred by then-manager Dean Austin.

Ward’s frustration is understandable given he came on loan to the Cobblers for game-time and experience, but he doesn’t need to look far for inspiration.

Cornell, the man responsible for currently keeping him out of the team, spent the vast majority of his first two seasons at Northampton as back-up, behind the likes of Adam Smith, Matt Ingram and Richard O’Donnell in the pecking order.

But once he was given his opportunity – at Ward’s expense – by Austin at the start of the season, he hasn’t looked back since, nailing down his position between the sticks with a series of steady and mostly error-free performances.

“I haven’t played a lot since I’ve been here, which has been disappointing for me, but I showed what I can do if we ever go to a penalty shoot-out on Tuesday,” said Ward.

I came on loan for experience and a starting place would be nice. I’ve waited a long time for my league debut – I thought it would come earlier but that’s how football goes.

“Dai’s been excellent and I can’t fault him so I can’t go knocking on the manager’s door. But hopefully I can still build my case to start in the league.

“With more games and more opportunities, I can put consistent performances in because playing once a month isn’t ideal for myself.

“I came on loan for experience and a starting place would be nice. I’ve waited a long time for my league debut – I thought it would come earlier but that’s how football goes.

“I’ve come here for experience and I’m gaining that in and around the squad. I’ll keep fighting.

“We’re all working hard in training every day and it’s down to the manager each week. If I have to wait a little bit longer, I’m patient enough to do so.”

Town’s progress in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday, via a penalty shoot-out win at Cambridge United, was good news for Ward given four of his five appearances this season have come in that competition.

It also took the Cobblers into the third round, three wins from a Wembley final.

“I think teams take it more seriously now,” added Ward. “Both teams had a strong side out on Tuesday but I’m not sure people quite see it as the competition it used to be.

“For us, everyone takes it seriously. We’re close to Wembley now, there’s a trophy at the end of it and hopefully we can keep the dream alive and keep going.

“We all dream of Wembley and not everyone gets to go there and not every team plays there but, if you get that on your CV and get a day out at Wembley, it’s great for the fans, great for the club and great for everyone, so hopefully we can keep that alive.”