It has been a rollercoaster ride for Northampton fans so far this season, but one thing that hasn’t risen much at all is the goal tally, and this will need to be addressed as soon as possible.
The first act is to look at Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s attacking options and see what they contributed to the side so far this season.
Alex Revell: The 34-year-old has started the majority of matches for the Cobblers this campaign, scoring only once. Revell definitely has a high work rate, always chasing down the ball from opposing defenders. This helps to keep the support of the fans but those in attendance are getting tired of the lack of goals. This is very different to 12 months ago. At this point last season, Revell had come close to double figures, helping Northampton reach fourth place and had become a fan favourite in the process. The surge of goals came to an end when he got injured in late 2016 and Revell has struggled to return to such form since.
Marc Richards: ‘Rico’ has always been a club hero, whether it was during his early days under Calderwood, or for his heroic performances under Wilder. But in recent times, the 35-year-old has struggled to retain such success. Despite scoring 13 goals in all competitions last season, Richards has seemed to lose his touch and fans are realising this. The issue with Richards is his status at the club. With him being such a large figure, he keeps his place in the team, much like Matt Taylor did in 2016/2017.
On a side note, every fan has realised by now that playing both Revell and Richards up front together DOES NOT WORK. Now, on to the other options for Hasselbaink.
Billy Waters and Chris Long: Firstly, let’s take a look at the former Cheltenham man. Waters has been played predominantly out of position this season, which is a big issue. The former X Factor contestant (fun fact) is a striker and had success in a central role for Gary Johnson’s side in 2016. Despite this, both Edinburgh and Hasselbaink have enjoyed using Waters on the right wing. The issue here is that Waters tends to drift into a central position a lot, leaving space open on the opposition’s left-hand side and that is where most goals seem to come from – the wings.
On the other hand, you have Chris Long. The Burnley loanee has had a similar story at Northampton so far. Long is also a striker but has been used out wide with Revell playing centrally. Long has had a slightly higher level of success, however, scoring two goals for the Cobblers, both against Portsmouth. Unfortunately, Long has had to battle with a recurring hamstring problem, meaning his chances have been limited.
Sam Hoskins: Just before I begin to discuss our youth options, I thought it would be a good idea to mention Sam Hoskins. The former Southampton player has become known for his work on the wing in recent times, but in his prime, Hoskins was a striker. The problem for Hoskins though seems to be his finishing, which is why he is now mainly used out wide or behind the striker.
Now it is time to look at two players who potentially should be given a chance in the first team.
Joe Iaciofano: The 19-year-old is currently out on loan at Chesham United, who play in the Southern League Premier Division. Iaciofano has had much success for Northampton’s Youth Team in recent years and was given a squad number in 2016 by Justin Edinburgh. With this, he made a few substitute appearances but struggled to play for more than a few minutes at a time, thus not getting a proper chance. Many Northampton fans have praised the teenager and his time in the first team has been coming for a while.
Leon Lobjoit: It is not difficult to see why former manager Justin Edinburgh snatched Leon Lobjoit as quickly as he did. Lobjoit scored 62 goals for Buckingham Town in just eight months and was signed in April of this year. The former QPR academy man has not been given much a chance in the first team though, most recently making a substitute appearance against the West London club in the Carabao Cup. Lobjoit is currently out on loan at local side Corby Town and has scored a few goals for them.
Here is what Corby Town’s manager thought of Leon Lobjoit’s recent performances for the Steelmen:
The question is – Should Joe Iaciofano and Leon Lobjoit be given a real chance in the first team? My answer is – Why not? Northampton currently sit 22nd in League One and after last Saturday’s 6-0 thrashing courtesy of Bristol Rovers, it can’t get much worse (we would hope). There has a real lack of both pace and attacking threat this season and Iaciofano and Lobjoit can provide both of those things. Iaciofano’s name has been on the mind of fans for over a year now and Lobjoit can clearly score on demand. This wouldn’t be the first time that the Cobblers have experimented with youth strikers. I’m obviously talking about Ivan Toney.
Toney was an instant star when he made his first start for Northampton, scoring twice in a 3-0 win over Dagenham & Redbridge which helped to keep the Cobblers in the Football League in 2014. Since then, the local lad has gone on to sign for Premier League side Newcastle United. During his time at the Magpies, he had had successful loan spells at Barnsley, Shrewsbury and Scunthorpe, making two winning appearances at Wembley in the process. Now I know that it would be hard to replicate what happened with Ivan Toney, but who can say that both Joe Iaciofano and Leon Lobjoit can’t do something similar?
So that is a round-up of Northampton’s frankly dreadful start to the season in terms of attack. Let’s hope that Hasselbaink gives the prospects a chance and hopefully us fans will be celebrating a lot of goals in the near future.