Jefferson Lake’s Chesterfield v Cobblers view

IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE - Cobblers midfielder Kane Ferdinand in action in the 0-0 draw at Chesterfield (Picture: Sharon Lucey)
IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE - Cobblers midfielder Kane Ferdinand in action in the 0-0 draw at Chesterfield (Picture: Sharon Lucey)

While not a great deal happened on the pitch at Chesterfield, Tuesday evening was undoubtedly a hugely eventful night in the history of the Cobblers.

The players were good value for their draw and point at the Proact Stadium, an outcome that few - including this reporter - predicted.

It was a bold move by Aidy Boothroyd to drop leading goalscorer Luke Norris from the starting line-up, and bolder still not to even introduce him as a substitute.

The sacrifice was one that was made out of tactical necessity and an urgent need to amend an appalling away record this season.

Eight defeats in nine games is a horrible run and for that reason, a draw at Chesterfield (a very talented team with a hugely deep squad) felt almost like a win.

But the more important victory was happening back in Northampton.

As well as Paul Reid and Mathias Doumbe were defending, as busy and alert Stuart Dallas, Chris Hackett and Danny Emerton were in a pace-infused three behind the belligerent skills of Jacob Blyth up front, they were not the key men for Northampton Town on Tuesday night.

The key performances came at the Guildhall, where Members of Northampton Borough Council’s planning committee finally voted in favour of the club’s plans for redevelopment.

The first phase of the much-needed overhaul of Sixfields will be the transformation of the east stand into a modern structure that can generate the income this (and every other) club needs to survive.

It was perhaps fitting that the team were playing at Chesterfield, whose own corporate hospitality facilities are seen as the benchmark by the current board and whose ability to generate moeny from them has largely paid for their current squad.

If anyone is in any doubt as to the need for such changes to the ground, look at Scunthorpe United who, playing in a stadium older than Sixfields, reported a loss of £1.5m for the year to June 2013, following on from one of almost £2m in the previous financial year.

League two clubs cannot sustain losses of £3.5m every two seasons without having either a deep-pocketed sugar daddy or going through some kind of financial meltdown.

The past week has been a major step in the right direction off the pitch and decent piece of progression on it.

The Cobblers’ past four games have yielded two wins, a loss and a draw - an acceptable return considering the fixtures in question were a difficult away FA Cup tie, league games against the teams first and second in the table and an awkward away match at a talented Hartlepool United.

There wasn’t much to write about at Chesterfield, although Northampton arguably had the better of the game and time-wasted like world champions as the game progressed.

The league position remains a concern but it is hard to deny that the club, in many areas, is moving forward.

Player ratings

MATT DUKE

Almost a night off for the big man, who didn’t have to make a save that ever truly tested him ...6

KEVIN AMANKWAAH

A positive display from the right-back, full of power and tenacity and a good contribution to the clean sheet ...7

MATHIAS DOUMBE

Very strong in the air and on the ground and used the ball well out of defence ...8

PAUL REID

‘The lighthouse’ had his hands full with the raw power of Gnanduillet but saw him off, and then did likewise with Richards ...8

JOE WIDDOWSON

Some useful overlaps but the focus was on defensive play and this was close to his standards of last season ...7

DANNY EMERTON

Bright throughout, and carried the ball out of defence on some very useful counter-attacks ...7

RICKY RAVENHILL

The central midfielder’s combative nature is the key to the type of performance the team needs to put in away from home. Typically gritty ...7

KANE FERDINAND

Arguably his best game for the club. Extremely confident on the ball and brave enough to take the extra touch, although he should have scored ...8

STUART DALLAS

Caused his marker plenty of problems down the left wing and formed a good understanding with Widdowson ...7

CHRIS HACKETT

A performance that, at times, was up there with his best work of last season. Still not 100 per cent sharp but this was a good outing ...8

JACOB BLYTH

The lone striker role is often a thankless task but Blyth deserves praise for the gusto he put into it, often sacrificing personal glory for team gain ...7

Substitutes:

CLIVE PLATT (for Blyth 70)

Another useful 20 fitness-building minutes that included a copybook sliding challenge ...6

GARY DEEGAN (for Dallas 72)

Injected a bit of fresh pace into the midfield area ...6

BEN TOZER (for Emerton 90+4)

Not used: McNamara, Collins, Morris, Norris