By Simon ‘Sprout` phillips
Hello and welcome to something for the weekend. Hoorah! The first home win is out of the way and hopefully that will ease some of the pressure and anticipation when the team plays at The Mem. I thought it was a good showing in the main from The Gas and we fully deserved our win. I suppose it could be said we were helped with the sending off of one of the Northampton players, but then are record against ten men has been pretty abysmal in the past few years. I don`t think there can be many arguments with the red card. Derek Riordan was through on goal thanks to a good run and in some ways it was a shame that we didn`t get to see ‘Deek` slot the ball home and show his finishing ability.
Before the game we lost Matt Gill due to an injury (who now appears to be out for a few weeks) which meant David Clarkson moved into the centre of midfield and Eliot Richards game in on the right. I thought Clarkson did well again in another different role and looks like he has the ability to be able to adapt. Hopefully we will get to see him further forward and make more of his ability in and around the box in future matches. At the moment it does feel a bit of trying to accommodate everyone in the team. Personally I`d rather see Clarkson up top with Riordan or Eaves rather than try and fit them all in, but then if we can keep on winning…
Going in at half-time it was obvious that Northampton were going to sit back and try and make it hard for us and we were going to have to work to break them down and the managers substitutions helped here. David Clarkson had to go off (I guess as a result of getting clattered a couple of times in the first half) to be replaced by Wayne Brown. For me Wayne Brown was my man of the match. Yes there were a few stray passes, but he was always after the ball, trying to keep the ball moving and trying to engineer moves. In the crowd I think a few people were getting a little impatient as it seemed we were moving slowly, but once we had taken the lead it was up to make Northampton work. No point getting carried away and giving Northampton opportunities to break and snatch anything. As much as I though Eliot Richards was poor first half, he had an excellent second and really made a difference going forward and showing what he can. That is the Eliot Richards we all want to see and maybe the impact and challenge of the new arrivals is making him raise his game.
All in all I thought 3-1 was a fair score line on the end. The only disappointment was that we did concede and that man Adebayo Akinfenwa scored against us again. Obviously people go on about his size quite a bit, but that does deflect away from his ability and record. If it wasn`t for his knee problems that stop him training properly then he would surely play at a much higher level. The goal came from one of those horrible long throw-ins that are so hard to defend against. A good ‘long un` is better than a corner as the delivery is flat and there is little movement or runs to attack the ball from the box and everyone seems to have to attack it from a standing position.
Away from the direct going on`s and Bristol Rovers for a moment it was sad to hear that Lewis Haldane has had to give up playing football due to his injuries. Lewis was not always everyone`s cup of tea on the pitch and perhaps didn`t become more of the player he could have, but I think most people will have appreciated his efforts once he crossed the white line. Off the pitch I have spoken to Lewis a couple of times at Rovers and he always seemed to come across as nice guy who just loved to play football and it must be horrible to have that taken away from you. I wish Lewis well in wherever his future takes him.
This Saturday sees us travel to Burton and hopefully (and I am sure we all say this every week) we can build on the last performance and try and put a couple of wins together to start us moving up the table. This is my last something for the weekend for a couple of weeks as I am now going to be on holiday and will miss the next home game against Torquay and when I get back I am sure I won`t have a clue what I am going to write about unless you want to hear about my visit to Rome.
Whatever you are up to this weekend, have a good one and up the gas!
Simon ‘Sprout` phillips