Northampton 2 Hartlepool 0
OK. Let's start with the positives. Unfortunately I feel that this bit is going to be brief. Despite the goals, I felt that both of our centre backs put in solid performances. Sam Collins got my vote as our man of the match. Christian Burgess wasn't as dominating in the air as usual, but showed plenty of deft touches on the ball, on several occasions waltzing with it around Northampton's forwards. Walton fought hard in his role of midfield ball winner. There were some short periods, particularly after Town's second goal, when we showed a bit more purpose & threat, with Williams firing in a fierce shot after cutting in from the left and someone else's shot from the right hitting the left-hand post.
However, that was too little too late. Make no mistake about it, all in all this was a pretty dire, lacklustre performance against a side that looked talented enough to be bottom of the table. To be fair to Northampton, they worked hard to close us down, won the midfield aerial battle and muscled our players off the ball time and again. Theirs was a spirited, determined performance and on the day they deserved to win, despite their obvious limitations.
The game started off badly when the returning Duckworth pulled up and was obviously limping badly before collapsing to the ground. He received considerable attention before being stretchered off. I'm sure better information will emerge from elsewhere soon, but the impression was that his season is over.
Barmby gave us the opportunity of width on the right but he struggled to do anything meaningful and wasted the 2 corners he took. Harewood is still not yet fulfilling the role of powerful target man up front. Too often he seemed rooted to the ground and without the pace to put in enough challenges. Our midfield seemed lightweight and disjointed, as if strangers to each other a lot of the time. The condition of the pitch clearly didn't help.
Northampton's first goal came from a free-kick on their right wing after Holden had been penalised & booked when it looked like the Northampton player had actually been the one fouling him.
It was a thoroughly disappointing day when we deservedly lost to a team well qualified to be bottom of the table. I don't really want to say anything more.