Northampton Town striker O’Donovan shrugs off play-off pressure

RELAXED - Cobblers striker Roy O'Donovan
RELAXED - Cobblers striker Roy O'Donovan
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Cobblers striker Roy O’Donovan insists he isn’t feeling the play-off pressure ahead of tonight’s npower League Two play-off semi-final, second leg clash with Cheltenham Town at Whaddon Road (ko 6.45pm).

O’Donovan’s goal at Sixfields on Thursday night is all that separates the sides as they prepare to do battle for a place in the Wembley final on May 18.

There are sure to be be plenty of nerves on the pitch and in the stands in Gloucestershire this evening, but O’Donovan insists he is looking forward to the game, and that it is something to be enjoyed.

“There is so much experience in our ranks, from the manager down, and I don’t think we will panic,” said O’Donovan.

“This is something to look forward to.

“This is the time of the season you want to be involved, there are no points at stake and it is just pride and the prize of a trip to Wembley you’re playing for, and I am sure both sides will go hell for leather for it.”

It’s not every week of the season that players of lower league teams go into any game already leading, but that is the situation facing the Cobblers as they prepare for tonight’s game.

It will be the first time the Cobblers have held a first-leg advantage in the play-offs since 1987, when they won the first-leg 1-0 at Cardiff City, with the next three occasions seeing them lose twice (3-1 to Bristol Rovers and 2-0 to Mansfield Town) and draw the other (0-0 v Southend United).

Being in front and knowing a clean sheet will guarantee progression to Wembley is something that could affect a team’s mental approach to a game, but O’Donovan says that is not a trap the Cobblers will fall into.

“I still think we need to go there and just do our job,” said the former Coventry City man.

“It is such a fine balance, and we need to make sure we do things properly, the same as we did on Thursday night.

“We need to start fast, start strong and pass the ball around.

“We did well on Thursday, and I don’t think much will change on Sunday.”

The Cobblers have sold out their allocation for tonight’s game, which is being shown live on Sky Sports 1.