A settled, dependable centre-back pairing is a common ingredient found in almost all successful sides, and in Ash Taylor and Aaron Pierre, the Cobblers have their own blossoming partnership that is starting to flourish.
Currently four games unbeaten, the chief reason Northampton have managed to stop the rot and rescue their season from the brink of disaster has been down to improved organisation and defensive solidity at back, and much of the credit for that must go to Taylor and Pierre
The pair complement each other well. Both are physically strong and imposing, winning headers and tackles galore, and whilst Taylor has taken most of the plaudits this season with his composure, consistency and ability to read the game, fellow summer signing Pierre is currently enjoying his best run for the club after a slow start.
It comes at a good time too. Northampton’s issues at the other end of the pitch have been well-documented and their lack of goals has only accentuated the importance of keeping it tight at the back, so the emergence of their new centre-back pairing is just what they need, with all four clean sheets this season coming when Pierre and Taylor have partnered one another.
The latest was recorded on Saturday when Scunthorpe United followed Blackpool in failing to break down the well-drilled Cobblers as both teams created – and missed – one glaring chance amid a smattering of half opportunities in a goalless draw in round one of the FA Cup.
“Of course I’m enjoying it,” said Taylor on his partnership with Pierre. “He’s a great lad and he’s got a bit of experience himself by playing at Wycombe.
We get on really well and that shows in our performances together. You need to be a team within a team and as two centre-halves, you have to have that partnership.
“We get on really well and that shows in our performances together. You need to be a team within a team and as two centre-halves, you have to have that partnership.
“It took a little bit of time to get going but we’re sound now.”
With Leon Barnett injured and Regan Poole being deployed as a central midfielder, Taylor and Pierre have had busy workloads so far this season; the pair starting and finishing each of Northampton’s last 10 matches in all competitions.
So the arrival of fellow defender Ryan McGivern, signed on a free transfer last week, will allow manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to freshen things up when required.
“There’s always competition but I’m not that type of player that will take my foot off the gas either way, whether there’s another player coming in or players fighting for positions,” added Taylor.
“It’s always been the case in my career and I always look to consolidate my position in the team and play as well as I can to keep myself in the team.
“There’s healthy competition for all of us, especially with Leon Barnett coming back too, and we need that as a squad.
“To pull in the right direction, we need every player to put in performances when they’re called upon.”
It would be no exaggeration to say that Taylor has been Northampton’s standout player so far this term.
Having dropped down from Scotland in the summer, the 27-year-old has been a model of consistency in the heart of Town’s back four, playing every minute of every game up to this point.
And despite spending the last three years north of the border playing for Scottish Premiership outfit Aberdeen, the former Welsh U21 international is no stranger to the third tier of English football.
He added: “I was at Tranmere and played a lot of League One games with them so I know the league from earlier experience.
“I’ve noticed in the past three years, since I went to Scotland and came back, the standard of the league has raised and the teams in this division are better and look to play more football.
“There are better players in the squads and it’s improving every year and I’ve found that it’s definitely improved since I’ve been away, but it’s still good to be back!”