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Northampton Town suffered yet another heavy defeat on Saturday, losing 5-1 away at fellow strugglers Oldham Athletic.
The result means that Northampton have now suffered heavy defeats on at least four occasions so far this season, losing 4-1 to both Charlton and Peterborough, 6-0 to Bristol Rovers and now 5-1 to Oldham Athletic. To lose this heavy is always unacceptable, however over a course of the season you can maybe allow for a couple of these results, however to have suffered all of these hammerings this side of Christmas makes for shocking viewing. Throw in a second-half collapse leading to a 3-0 defeat at home to Scunthorpe, a poor 2-0 defeat to then-bottom Plymouth and a 0-0 blank at home to strugglers Bury, it looks like it could be a long old season for the Cobblers.
Another thing which makes it more worrying for Northampton fans is that, with all respect, Bristol Rovers and Oldham, the sides who have handed out the heaviest punishments, aren’t considered the top sides in the division. Strangely, Northampton actually seem to perform better against the top sides, beating Oxford and Portsmouth and limiting Rotherham and Wigan to only 1-0!
The game against Oldham was in severe doubt before kick-off after heavy snowfall overnight, and volunteers had to help clear the snow off the pitch so that the game could take place. If only it didn’t take place.
Once again Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made changes to the starting line-up, bringing Billy Waters and Sam Foley back into the side, and persisting with using 6 foot 5 holding midfielder Matt Crooks as a makeshift left-winger. If that, and the fact that Northampton have undergone another 5-game goal draught, doesn’t highlight the shortcomings of the squad then I don’t know what will.
It didn’t make a difference though, as Northampton were second best in all departments at Boundary Park, going 1-0 down after just 4 minutes when Jack Byrne curled Oldham in front from 25 yards. Just 20 minutes later, Tope Obedayi headed Oldham into a 2-0 lead, before Byrne’s deflected effort made it 3-0 before half-time.
BBC Radio Northampton’s Tim Oglethorpe summed up the thoughts of Cobblers fans at half time, stating that “the only hope for Northampton is that this game could be abandoned if the snow gets heavier”.
One positive for Northampton is that the goal draught came to an end early in the second half, albeit through a keeper error gifting Sam Foley a tap-in from close range. Oldham continued their dominance though, and Gevaro Nepomuceno slid in for 4, before Craig Davies rubbed salt in the wounds in stoppage time by adding Oldham’s fifth. Another worrying sign for the Cobblers is that Oldham fans on Twitter after the game were stating that they didn’t even get out of first gear all game, it was made that easy for them.
With major squad changes planned for January, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has a monumental task ahead of him, ensuring that Northampton Town aren’t severely cut adrift by this point.
A couple of questions need to be asked, one being why are Northampton Town losing so heavily so often? Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has stated that there was off the field ‘issues’ at the club when he arrived which still haven’t been resolved, what these are is anyone’s guess, but they need to be resolved as quickly as possible. There is clearly something not quite right at the club at the moment, as individually the players are not that bad, making the heavy defeats all the more puzzling.
Furthermore, just 18 months ago Northampton were celebrating after absolutely destroying League Two and going 29 games unbeaten. I know Chris Wilder and many of the title winning side did leave, but they left with the club in a fantastic position to continue their momentum, yet to go from champions to this in just 18 months suggests that something is not right. The club have had 3 transfer windows since being in League One, and I am struggling to single out a handful of signings who you could say has actually benefitted the squad in that time. Also, despite all the new faces, the Cobblers’ still haven’t addressed the striker and winger issues.
A saving grace for Northampton is that they are no strangers to being in a relegation battle at Christmas. In 2014, Aidy Boothroyd was sacked and Wilder appointed, and he signed Ricky Holmes and Jason Taylor, both of whom massively contributed to Northampton’s eventual League Two survival. A transfer window of this type is a must for Hasselbaink or else he could, rightly or wrongly, follow in the footsteps of his namesake Mallinder at the Saints Rugby and be the second Jim to be sacked by Northampton this season.
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