Barnett eyes regular starting berth after starring in first clean sheet

Experienced centre-back Leon Barnett has set his sights on becoming a permanent fixture in the Cobblers defence after his excellent performance during Saturday's goalless draw with Notts County.

Monday, 24th September 2018, 6:25 pm
Updated Monday, 24th September 2018, 6:28 pm
Leon Barnett acrobatically wins a header against Notts County on Saturday. Picture: Sharon Lucey

Aaron Pierre’s suspension presented a rare opportunity for Barnett to partner skipper Ash Taylor at the heart of defence and his return to the side coincided with a first clean sheet of the season, only their third of 2018.

The 32-year-old was integral in keeping County at bay too as he nullified the threat of veteran striker Jon Stead and helped limit the visitors to very few clear sights of David Cornell’s goal, bar one long-range effort from Kane Hemmings which clipped the crossbar.

“I’m delighted and I think everybody is happy with the clean sheet because that’s the main thing as a defender and that’s what the team want,” said Barnett afterwards.

“I want to play as many games as I can and contribute to more clean sheets. If I can do that I’ll be happy but we need to be more ruthless at both ends.”

His performance didn’t go unnoticed by manager Dean Austin, who said: “It was a first clean sheet of the season and I know what Barney is about. Ash and Aaron did well in pre-season and at the start of the season so I’ve got four good centre-halves.

“Barney’s a top lad and he knows he’s going to play games for us and I thought he was excellent on Saturday.”

Despite Barnett’s performance and a much-needed clean sheet, it was still an afternoon of disappointment for Town who failed to score themselves and were held to a draw by the winless Magpies.

Barnett is not losing faith though, adding: “I think it’ll come. It’s tough trying to find confidence but as a team we’ve done our job and kept a clean sheet. We’ve created chances but been unfortunate not to put them away.

“Some games we’re going to look back and think we’d be delighted with a draw but that wasn’t the case on Saturday. A draw was OK but I think it counts as two points lost.

“I think everybody thought this league would be a roller-coaster and we’ve come up short in a few games so far and started the season slowly, but it wasn’t a must-win game.

“For the fans, for the manager and for ourselves, we don’t want to disappoint anyone. It was frustrating not to get that win but you’ve got to look at the positives.

“I’m not one for excuses. We train every day and we’re all used to each other but it’s just about finding the back of the net for us - we’ve got score more and keep more clean sheets. I just think it’s down to confidence with us at the moment.”