Paul cautious of Northampton threat despite poor start
Following something of a surprisingly shaky start to the season for Northampton Town, Paul Tisdale is aware that Exeter could be taking on a cornered beast on this weekend’s trip to Sixfields.
The Cobblers have won one, drawn one, and lost six of their fixtures in all competitions which has seen them knocked out of two cup competitions and lying 21st in the Sky Bet League 2 table. While it seems a far cry from the 2012/13 form, which landed them a play-off spot, Tis is wary that their early-season form belies their potential.
“We’re only six games in, so I don’t think we can assume their performance will be bad all year,” said Tis. “They’ve got some good players, a good manager, they know what they’re about and they’ve had a sticky start. You could say that they’ll be at their most dangerous currently.
“We will of course look at their previous games leading up to our match and we will of course look at their form, but I think we’ll know they’re a team capable of a very good performance as they did last year in getting to the play-off final.”
Much is made of clubs suffering a ‘hangover’ after so-close-but-yet-so-far kinds of seasons – Northampton find themselves in that situation, as their 49th game of the last league season saw them fall at the final hurdle, as Bradford triumphed 3-0 in the play-off final in Wembley meaning for another division in the fourth tier for Northampton.
But while there appears to be plenty of substance in the enduring effects of missing out, Tis feels that it is more to do with the way it affects preparation more so than the psychological impact. He also expressed respect of his opposite number Aidy Boothroyd – while the two managers have a different tack to their playing style, Paul commended his thoroughness and organisational ability.
“I think the hangover often eludes to an emotional or psychological influence on their start to the following season,” Paul continued, “but I think it’s more factual. I think it’s based on the season going on longer and failing to make preparations early because you don’t know what league you’re going to be in.
“Expectations gradually change during the course of March, April and May – I’m not sure it’s a case of a manager feeling subdued or sorry for themselves; there are so many variables that are affected by a late finish to the season, that it will affect their start to the next.
“I would expect Northampton to get back on course because they’re a very good team. I don’t think it’s a big issue – but it can certainly feel like that when you’re in it. I remember with Exeter in 2007 [following the Conference play-off final defeat to Morecambe] it certainly felt a bit gloomy when we started the next season poorly. But you have to trust yourself.
“The job that a manager does is not easy at times. Aidy is a very well organised chap and very thorough; he knows how to take a theory and put it into practice and get results from it. He’s a very respectful chap as well.”
Travelling Grecians will see a familiar face in a claret shirt on Saturday, as former City man Kevin Amankwaah looks to continue his spell in the Cobblers’ rearguard. Exeter’s defence has needed some shuffling this season to accommodate for the absence of two departed full-back, but Tis is comfortable with the way the gap has been plugged.
He continued: “Kevin is a player we would have kept had we been able to. I’m glad he’s got himself fixed up at a good club – though I hope he doesn’t play too well on Saturday against us!
“But we know a lot about Kevin – he had a good season for us last year and he’s someone I’ll always be fond of.
“I’d like to have had him here, but we’ve had a good start and I don’t regret anything yet.”
And in terms of team news, the Grecians gaffer confirmed the side was back to full-strength with John O’Flynn expecting to return after suffering a tweak to his hamstring against York.
“John will be close to being fit – we don’t know for sure but we’re working on the idea that he will be.
“I think everyone else is fit. Jamie Reid is back in too [after being away with Northern Ireland under-21s last weekend] and that will increase our attacking options – I’m expecting very strong bench.”