Jefferson Lake’s Cobblers v Accrington ratings

TOWERING PRESENCE - Clive Platt was in great form for the Cobblers in their 1-0 win over Accrington on Saturday (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)
TOWERING PRESENCE - Clive Platt was in great form for the Cobblers in their 1-0 win over Accrington on Saturday (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)

Many more results like Saturday’s and we’re going to have to start talking about the Cobblers having turned a corner.

The win over Accrington, a single-margin victory that should have been secured by much more than that, was the team’s third victory in its past five games.

Cobblers V Accrington Stanley.

Cobblers V Accrington Stanley.

For the record, the other two matches were the goalless draw at Chesterfield and last weekend’s no-show at Hartlepool United.

While unspectacular and not without its faults, this was perhaps the best performance out of those five (the FA Cup win at Bishop’s Stortford, the first of the five, should probably be discounted given the low quality of the opposition) and one that has closed the gap between the Cobblers and three teams above them to just two points.

There is also the minor psychological boost it will give the squad to no longer see their club’s name at the very bottom of the Football League although it must of course be noted that they remain in the bottom two.

It’s almost a shame that the next fixture is an FA Cup game, at Grimsby Town, and for which two of the players who contributed to the Accrington win - Stuart Dallas and Izale McLeod - will be unavailable.

Cobblers V Accrington Stanley.

Cobblers V Accrington Stanley.

Dallas could yet be given permission by Brentford but McLeod certainly cannot play after featuring for Milton Keynes Dons, from whom he is on loan at Sixfields, in the first round.

One of those changes is an easy one to make as Chris Hackett will be free of suspension for the weekend and, barring any injuries, will come back into the side.

McLeod will be a loss because he linked up very well with Clive Platt, whose performance benefited from the fact that he knew precisely where his partner would be after many years of playing together for the Dons.

Some called Platt’s display his best in a Northampton shirt, and expressed surprise at it, but Platt has hinted at this sort of a showing for some time; his main inhibitor has been the injuries rather than any lack of quality and there is nobody in the current squad who can hold the ball up, win headers and draw others into play quite like he can.

Cobblers V Accrington Stanley.

Cobblers V Accrington Stanley.

At the other end of the pitch, Paul Reid and Mathias Doumbe continued to forge a good understanding as they recorded a second successive clean sheet.

In the past three hours of football they have blunted a highly talented Chesterfield attack and the division’s form team.

It is displays like the ones they put in on Saturday that makes news about Kelvin Langmead’s extended absence through injury easier to stomach.

In midfield the key performer was, again, Ricky Ravenhill.

Cobblers V Accrington Stanley.

Cobblers V Accrington Stanley.

Not since the days of winter 1995 and the arrival of the hard-as-nails Chris Burns has a midfield enforcer has this kind of influence on a Northampton team - it is no exaggeration to say that had Ravenhill been with the club since the summer then they would be nowhere near the bottom of the league.

It wasn’t a vintage performance; the wingers might have contributed a little more and McLeod’s penalty was one of the worst witnessed for some time (although credit to the goalkeeper for going to right way).

But it’s all about results at the moment. Results combined with good performances are a bonus. If they can continue getting them then we can finally say this team has turned that corner.

Player ratings

MATT DUKE

Had very little to do but did it all with what has now become his trademark ease ...6

Cobblers V Accrington Stanley.

Cobblers V Accrington Stanley.

KEVIN AMANKWAAH

A couple of positional issues early in the game but can be pleased with his contribution ...6

MATHIAS DOUMBE

Continued where he left off at Chesterfield with a physical display that contained just a couple of errors of judgement ...7

PAUL REID

Headed everything and really led by example from centre-back. Perhaps his best display since rejoining the club ...8

JOE WIDDOWSON

Seemed strangely reluctant to compete in the air but overlapped well and did his defensive duties well ...6

DANNY EMERTON

Really good pass under pressure to Dallas for the goal and made some good runs but needs more end product ...6

RICKY RAVENHILL

Has proved to be such a vital signing and was allowed to operate his pugnacious style by an old-fashioned referee who let the tackles flow ...8

GARY DEEGAN

Seemed flustered in the game’s early stages but settled in to it and began to pick some good passes out ...6

STUART DALLAS

A curious performance - looked threatening at times but was very quiet at others. Took his goal superbly ...7

IZALE McLEOD

Took up some very good positions and won the penalty, from which he should have had a debut goal ...7

CLIVE PLATT

A masterclass of hold-up play from the veteran striker - kept the ball away from the defence at all times and slipped in some excellent passes ...8

Substitutions:

JACOB BLYTH (for Platt 72)

Was sent on to do the job Platt was doing but didn’t really do it. Looked sluggish ...5

LUKE NORRIS (for McLeod 77)

Looked hungry to make an impression after coming out of the side ...6

IAN MORRIS (for Deegan 79)

Made one or two good choices but also some bad ones after late introduction ...5

Not used: Carter, Collins, Demontagnac, McNamara