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A Corner Turned?
Light At The End Of This Tunnel? By: Eric Hitchmo 22/11/2010
Northampton Town
4 1
League 20/11/2010
2010-2011 Attendance: 1918 (502)
More On Northampton Town

I was holding fire after the Charlton game on my belief that maybe, just maybe, we are beginning to turn a corner. Maybe the horror of the The Chavs game has finally given us a massive wake up call and made people realise that this sort of performance will not be tolerated. Because ever since, we have played pretty well.

Tuesday was a great game of football, and we were very unlucky not to have at least taken it to Extra Time. On the balance of play there was no question that we deserved to go through but for, as every report in the written world has stated, the Charlton goalkeeper who single handedly dumped us out of the cup. In both games, his fine demonstration of the goalkeeping art kept Charlton's heads above the water. The signs though from Tuesday were that of encouragement, the only lingering worry for me was whether I would ever see this team play like that again, or close to that on a consistent basis. Saturday's evidence suggests this is a possibility.

Yes so we played against ten men for the vast majority of the afternoon, and Northampton were no great shakes who are struggling this season, but we still had a job to do and we did it emphatically. At the back we were solid enough, with Jake Cole called upon a few times but the outstanding performer was once again Grant Basey. His defensive prowess is undeniable and he has been a real blessing with the long term injuries suffered by Dennehy and Leach. He is calm, assured, and has a mean left foot which was demonstrated with a superb free kick early in the second half. He almost notched one on Tuesday against his former employers but was thwarted. The same was not happen as he whipped it past the Cobblers' keeper from all of 30 yards. That made it 3-1 early on and made our position plenty more comfortable.

Going forward the man of the moment was Steve Kabba. Two goals and a hand in the others, he is absolute class. I really cannot wait to see him and Izale McLeod on the same pitch together because it's a partnership that could be potentially lethal. Kabba is a workhorse, setting up his teammates and getting into dangerous positions in the box. He is strong, pacy and has a good eye for goal, doubling his tally on Saturday with a brace that could well have been turned into a hat-trick late on. It would have been nothing short of what he deserved for a brilliant forward performance which left his slow, aging strike partner Kevin Gallen well and truly in the shadows. The sooner McLeod returns to full fitness the better, the partnership could be so, so key to our survival.

On the left, Mark Marshall continues to be a menace but his final ball and/or decision making can often be found wanting. One particular moment saw him shoot from a very tight angle where there were two Barnet players in the six yard box pleading for a driven ball across the box. His ability to beat a man and be very dangerous for us is not in question, but just some work on shaking off some of that greed could turn him into a fine asset. Ricky Holmes added a fourth in injury time with his first goal for the club. A big weight of his shoulders as it has been coming since day one. He was fed the ball in the box and finished from 15 yards with aplomb. His relief was clear for all to see, and he can crack on now without that monkey on his back.

Without doubt this is something we can build on, and Tuesday is a very important game to do it in. Gillingham are the visitors having finally managed an away win after nearly eighteen months of trying (though I am  aware of the away win timing error regarding Barnet in the last article, thanks for pointing that out!). They've got that monkey off their back too so the pressure will be slightly off them to turn it round in that respect. They may fancy their chances as the former Barnet duo of Andy Hessenthaler and Ian Hendon return to Underhill, but they too are struggling and if we can continue to improve ourselves, we could be seeing back to back wins for the first time under Stimson and indeed for what feels like an age.

The table looks far kinder now. A win on Tuesday should lift us well out of the bottom two. We now sit 23rd after Hereford dropped below us having lost to Lincoln and only three points separate us from 15th. With any luck we'll be able to carry this on and achieve the dream of mid-table obscurity. Here's hoping.

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