FEATURE: The impressive statistics behind Cobblers’ rise up the table

David Cornell at Blundell Park. Picture: Pete Norton/Getty ImagesDavid Cornell at Blundell Park. Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images
David Cornell at Blundell Park. Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images
Cobblers goalkeeper David Cornell has been happy to sit back and enjoy the quiet life over the past month or so.

A busy man at the start of the season, when he was regularly seen picking the ball out of his net, Cornell has shipped just four goals across the past eight games, the same amount Town conceded in the space of 42 minutes against Colchester United last month.

The defensive collapse suffered by Northampton at the hands of the U’s was the cue for manager Keith Curle to go back to basics and tighten things up in defence, and the results since speak for themselves.

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Their average of 0.5 goals conceded per game since losing to Colchester – the best record in League Two during that time – compares favourably to the 1.4 goals per game they were letting in over the previous 30 matches this season.

And not only is Cornell picking the ball out of his net less recently, he’s also having fewer shots to save with Town conceding an impressively meagre 19 shots on target over that same eight-game period.

What’s more, across the last two games, opponents Newport County and Grimsby Town have managed just on shot on target combined, keeping Cornell’s workload to a bare minimum.

While that can mainly be attributed to the improved efforts of Charlie Goode, Aaron Pierre, Ash Taylor and David Buchanan at the back, midfielders Jordan Turnbull and Sam Foley have also been in fine form.

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After a fourth clean sheet in six games at Blundell Park on Saturday, Cornell said: “The conditions made it tough but the boys at the back and the two sitting in front defended really well.

“I didn’t have that much to do again and the players did brilliantly in the conditions. It was another light day for me, which is great!”

Cornell was only called into serious action on two occasions on Saturday and both times he displayed excellent anticipation as well as speed off his line to thwart Wes Thomas and Elliott Embleton.

“It’s one thing I’m decent at I’d like to think,” added Cornell. “I try to read the game two or three steps ahead to see those things happening.

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“That’s all part of the concentrating and staying focused but I think it was a fight in the conditions on Saturday and the boys showed that fight and have done for the past seven or eight games.”

A settled back four has certainly helped matters. Curle has selected Goode, Taylor, Pierre and Buchanan as his defence for each of the past six matches.

“There have been changes at times this season but there are reasons for that,” Cornell continued. “I think that’s a few games it’s been unchanged now and we’ve picked up decent results so the lads are putting in performances.

“They all want to stay in the team and they’re producing performances to do that.”

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Town’s defensive improvement has helped them move into the top half of League Two and have eyes on a potential play-off challenge this season, though Cornell is not getting ahead of himself.

He added: “We’re looking at the next team. We’re still six points behind with eight games left so if we win our games, fingers crossed we’ll get closer to it.

“But the next step is winning on Saturday and keeping the run going. Any game we go into we want to win - hopefully the weather is a bit calmer!”