O’Donovan in Akinfenwa warning to Cheltenham defenders

STRONG PARTNERSHIP - Adebayo Akinfenwa and Roy O'Donovan
STRONG PARTNERSHIP - Adebayo Akinfenwa and Roy O'Donovan

Adebayo Akinfena is ominously coming back into top form, according to his strike partner Roy O’Donovan.

And the Irishman has warned Cheltenham Town’s defenders that they are going to have their work cut out containing the self-proclaimed ‘Beast’ when the Cobblers travel to Whaddon Road for tomorrow night’s league two play-off sem-final, second leg.

Akinfenwa is the Cobblers’ top scorer with 17 goals this season, but is currently in the middle of a goal drought.

The big number 10, who has recently been troubled by a back complaint, hasn’t scored since the 1-1 draw at AFC Wimbledon on February 19, and has only managed to hit the net three times since finding the target in the 3-2 defeat to Cheltenham on December 8 last year.

But O’Donovan is convinced that a goal is just around the corner for Akinfenwa, and said: “B was so strong on Thursday night, and I haven’t seen him be that strong in quite a while because of his back problem.

“He was pushing people around, he was jumping up for headers, he was causing chaos and that was good for me.

“I could feel a goal coming for him all night, but it wasn’t to be.

“But you can see him coming back into form and that bodes well for us.”

O’Donovan was also full of praise for Cobblers central defender Nathan Cameron following his impressive performance at the back against Cheltenham.

Cameron had a tricky baptism in the claret and white, struggling badly on his full debut at Bradford City.

He was taken out of the firing line for three weeks following that game, and was re-introduced for last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Barnet and performed well.

To many observers’ surprise, he retained his place at the heart of defence for the play-off first-leg against the Robins, but was excellent alongside Clarke Carlisle.

O’Donovan was delighted for his former Coventry City squad mate, and said: “He was fantastic, and he is another player, like me, where a lack of match fitness has been the problem.

“He has been held back and sort of kept in cold storage for the past 18 months, and you can see he is hungry to play.

“Nathan is strong, and players know that of they beat him in the air they are not beating him the second time.

“He is a very good player, and the manager showed a lot of faith in him on Thursday, putting him in for one of the biggest games of the season.”

Time will tell if Cameron keeps his place for the trip to Cheltenham, or whether manager Aidy Boothroyd recalls skipper Kelvin Langmead, who was an unused substitute on Thursday.