Pompey v Northampton: the opposition view

Northampton manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Picture: Sharon Lucey
Northampton manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Picture: Sharon Lucey
Conor Chaplin grabs Pompey' s late winner. Picture: Joe Pepler

MK Dons 1 Pompey 2: What We Learnt

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This season has been quite a struggle for Northampton.

During the summer, quite a few players were brought into the club, with expectations increasing with each signing.

The supporters began to consider a top-half finish or even a play-off push – but it certainly hasn’t panned out that way.

After losing the opening five matches of the season – and drawing the other – Justin Edinburgh was sacked, with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink appointed.

He has inherited a side which struggles to score goals.

It is very unbalanced, with a decent back four and goalkeeper but with no pacy wingers or a 20-goal-a-season striker.

Hasselbaink has already said he wants a striker in the transfer window – pretty obvious for a side which hasn’t netted in four matches.

What the new manager has done, however, is definitely tighten the team up, making them more organised, harder to beat and a lot more disciplined.

Yet he hasn’t done anything about the ongoing goal shortage and it’s a case of muddling through until the January window in the meantime.

At one stage there were three successive wins, beating Gillingham, Blackpool and Oxford United, but since then the Cobblers have lost three and drawn one.

It really has been a difficult season to make sense of, volatile in performances and results.

In general, you get a few fans who are unhappy, but most are quite satisfied in how the team are faring under Hasselbaink, even though they are not exactly over the moon.

They can see progress and believe quite good things can be achieved under him.

Of course, the Dutchman is hamstrung by the squad he has inherited, but he has definitely done better than Edinburgh.

Looking at the team, centre-back Ash Taylor has probably been the player of the season so far, he has been very solid.

The summer recruit from Aberdeen is good in the air, composed and proving extremely reliable at the heart of the defence.

Keeper Matt Ingram arrived on loan from QPR six games into the season and made such great saves, looking solid in goal.

But other than Taylor and Ingram, it’s difficult to pick many others who have shone.

The likes of Ashley Grimes and Matt Crooks have put in good performances at times, but they have been offshot by too many poor ones.

That inconsistency has held them back.

Crooks is actually a quality player, but has been positioned on the left-hand side, not a role which suits him at all.