• Adam Stubbings

Opposition Talk: Northampton (H)

Doncaster Rovers take on Northampton Town this weekend hoping to rebound from Tuesday night’s defeat at Crewe. The Cobblers are also coming off the back of a defeat and find themselves in the relegation zone ahead of the clash, and we’ve spoken to Northampton fan and podcast host Charles Commins, who can be heard on the It’s All Cobblers To Me podcast each week discussing his team’s fortunes.

Read on for our interview with Charles discussing this Saturday’s game and Northampton’s fortunes this season.

Defeat at Charlton in midweek left Northampton in the relegation zone. What do you think are the main factors behind the team’s struggles this season?

It all comes back to the summer recruitment and Keith Curle’s stubbornness when it comes to playing such a direct style of football. The players that were brought in during the summer window weren’t equal to or better than the players who had left. While the winter window recruitment was far better and does look to have corrected the issues we had, it was too late for Curle and Jon Brady has changed the mentality of the players and given them more freedom to express themselves which has meant we look to pass the ball around more.

Despite this, you demolished promotion-chasing Portsmouth last weekend so clearly have the capability to take on and beat teams in League One. Did that result show the potential in this Cobblers side?

The change of playing style and mentality has completely changed the confidence of the players and it is showing on the pitch. This isn’t the same side Doncaster fans will remember from December – we have the ability to threaten sides with pace and a little bit of guile.

While there is a long way to go and we are by no means out of it, I have a new-found belief that we can avoid the drop this season now. Whether we will succeed is another matter though.

Both teams have changed manager since the last game between us. What are your thoughts on the decision to dismiss Keith Curle, and is Jon Brady the right man to steer you to safety?

I was fully behind Keith for the majority of his tenure. When he arrived we were in the bottom four of League Two and he leaves with us a whole division higher after just one full season. Unfortunately, his decision to allow Jordan Turnbull to leave at the end of last season and the inability to sign Play-Off star Callum Morton really hurt us.

There was a lot of turnover in the summer of 2020, with captain Charlie Goode being sold to Brentford for a club record fee and decent loanees returning to their parent clubs. The replacements simply weren’t adequate and by the time Christmas had arrived, Curle had his side playing aimless long balls forward, without thinking. Coupled with a pretty poor looking defence, this meant we lost a lot of games before the whistle even blew.

Brady has changed things dramatically. We now play 4-3-3 and keep the ball on the deck more. The players have a freedom to play and are proving that they can mix it with the rest of the league. The biggest thing Brady has done is give us a renewed confidence. He knows the club inside and out so, at least for now, he was the right man for sure.

We aren’t going to win League One anytime soon but if we can stay up, I’m confident in having a mid-table League One side next season.

Ryan Watson is in blistering form at the moment, notching six goals in six games. How important has he been to the side this season?

He’s been bloody brilliant! For a player that struggled to keep a regular place under Curle, he has taken to being a leading member of Brady’s side like a duck to water. He now plays further up the pitch than he did under Curle and anyone who saw the Play Off Final last year will know he has a shot on him.

Confidence is clearly high with him and most fans now fully expect him to score every game. Tuesday night at Charlton was a rare blank for Watto (said with an Australian twang) so pop your mortgage* on him getting one on. Saturday.

*Maybe 50p, and not your mortgage. I don’t want anyone going bankrupt!

Who are the other key players for Northampton at the moment?

Mikel Miller is our best player in terms of technical quality. The ball just sticks to his feet.

Sam Hoskins is our main outlet but he is infuriating and constantly runs into cul-de-sacs.

Ryan Edmondson is our main striker and got off the mark last Saturday against Pompey.

New signing Alex Jones scored within moments of coming on for his debut on Tuesday night. He may well be prolific!

Finally, how do you see Saturday’s game going?

It’s a tough one to call. Doncaster are up in the Play-Off places but your form of late looks a little patchy. Hopefully, it will be a good time to play you and we can come away with another huge three points in our battle to avoid the drop.

Expect us to press you from the first second and not give you a moment’s peace. If we can score first, you’ll be in trouble!

Prediction: Donny 1-2 Cobblers