After our best win so far, we have a tough match at under-performing Northampton, currently only outside of the relegation places by goal difference and desperate to win. However, they shouldn't be underestimated with Shaun Harrad recently deemed surplus to requirements and sold to recently promoted Bury.
Northampton, have so far only picked up a point at home against Accrington and then losing their last two matches there to Cheltenham and Morecambe so the home crowd will be very nervous. They do have a better away record, winning 1-0 at Aldershot, coming back on Saturday from 2-0 down to draw against Southend but with a defeat at Bristol. However, they did beat Ipswich in the opening round of the league cup.
Danger-man is our old friend Akinfenwa who has already scored three times in the league for them! McKoy did pick up a second yellow in injury time against Southend so I think is suspended.
As for Torquay, it could be argued, why change a winning side? However, Bodin is back from international duty and Howe should be more or less over his injury so we could have real competition up front again and Ling has some difficult decisions to make! I feel that Howe may be introduced more slowly, particularly with a home midweek match coming up and McPhee/Atieno may well retain their places. I can't see any chances in defence as Leadbitter only managed the first half against Brighton and understandably isn't probably fully match fit yet. The midfield could stay the same with Macklin retained on the right wing assuming 4-4-2 is the de facto formation.
The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.
As 0-0 games go this one was packed with decent chances. As seems to be our way this season, we played some tidy football at times, but were very, very sloppy at others. There was a spell for about half an hour just after the interval during which we were terrible - it could have cost us dearly. On another day Bayo could have scored three in a period of 5 second half minutes.
That said, we created several decent chances ourselves - We were the stronger side in the first half. with the impressive Bodin pulling the strings. Neat passing put Mcphee clean through, but he never looked confident of putting it away. Shame - his was very hard working and made several decent runs today, but just does not look like a striker in front of goal. He was also caught offside too often today. I must be missing something as he does not look like a fella capable of scoring 16 goals in a season at any level. Morris also put in several decent crosses - it was by far the most effective I have seen him going forward. He lost possession too often, but all of our players seem to have a problem in this department. Howe was decent enough throughout but tired towards the end his tidy footwork forced a cracking save from the keeper just before the break.
After losing our way in the second half we looked a little stronger in the closing minutes. Their keeper made what looked to be another superb save from Mansell. It was at the other end of the pitch but Manse didn't seem to do anything wrong with his shot. He was pretty impressive again today.
All in all, a decent point which I didn't think we would hold out for during long periods of the second half. I have seen us three times this season and whilst we looked tighter than we did at Aldershot I still think we are far too open. Bobby is called into play far too often for my liking and there are periods of 5 or 10 minutes when we just seem to go to sleep as a team. I fear that we will be on the end of a hiding sooner or later. Bobby was very sound today and made one particularly good save when he stood tall on an angled one on one. His throwing distribution was generally very effective today, but on one or two occasions we seemed to be intent on playing football on the edge of our box. We are not good enough for that and it could have cost us.
Although I like the player a lot, I don't think Oastler at right back is working. I also like Manse and O'kane in midfield, but at times we are not strong enough in the tackle which seems to pile the pressure on a defence which is already struggling. Is there a system where we can shore things up and make more of O'Kane's talent? I hear Craig Stanley may be available for a loan?? (only through INTERNET rumour) Stanley and Manse in the middle and O'Kane working off Rene would be interesting.