Paul Tisdale not fooled by false league position of Northampton
If Northampton Town manager Aidy Boothroyd is seeking any sympathy for his side’s predicament, he can probably find it from Exeter City counterpart Paul Tisdale.
The Cobblers were among the pre-season favourites for promotion from League Two after reaching the play-off final in May, when they were beaten by Bradford City.
Like many teams before them, Northampton seem to have suffered some kind of hangover from that crushing Wembley loss, with the Cobblers losing four of their first six games.
It is a situation Tisdale can relate to, after his Exeter City side suffered a similar fate in the wake of losing to Morecambe in the 2007 Conference play-off final.
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“We are only six games in and you can’t really assume their performance will be really bad all year at home,” Tisdale said before taking his side to Sixfields.
“They have some good players, a good manager, they know what they are about and they have had a sticky start. You could say they are going to be dangerous.
“I hear this term ‘play-off hangover’ and there seems to be some substance to that fact when a team loses in a play-off final. But I think hangover alludes to an emotional or psychological influence on their start to the following season.
“I think it’s because of the fact their season went on longer, so you can’t make preparations [for the next campaign] early, you are not sure what league you are going to be in, expectations change during March, April and May, so I am not sure it is a case of a manager or players feeling subdued.
“There are so many variables affected by a late finish to a season that it can only affect the start of the next.
“I am sure they will get back on course, they are a very good team and I remember, with us in 2007, it felt a bit gloomy when we started the following season poorly. But you trust yourself and I am sure they will work it out.”
City actually only lost two of their first 18 league games in 2007-08, but nine of those ended in draws. The season ultimately ended with promotion back to the Football League, so Tisdale is refusing to write Boothroyd’s side off just yet.
Part of the reason for the Cobblers’ struggle is the loss of Adebayo Akinfenwa, whose goals last season were a primary reason for Northampton’s success, to Gillingham.
However, Tisdale will be more bothered about his side on Saturday as they seek their first away win of the campaign. So far this season, the Grecians have done reasonably well on their travels, but without playing well enough for long enough to emerge with a win.
“It’s very hard to play great football for 94, 95 minutes,” Tisdale said. “But I think the point is that when you become a very effective side and you have your lulls and your dull ten minutes here or there, you conduct yourselves competently, your standard of play is very effective, and you weather the storm.
“That’s about unity and team know-how, combinations on the pitch, resolve and something you will gain or develop over a season.
“We haven’t been scintillating in any game we have played for the full 90 minutes, but what I would say is that, in every game we have played, at some point in that game, we have been in it with a chance of winning it or producing a result.”
Tisdale must decide whether to restore John O’Flynn to his attack alongside Sam Parkin, or stick with Alan Gow, who is still working his way towards full fitness. City also welcome back Jamie Reid from international duty, after he played for Northern Ireland’s Under-21 side in a 1-0 European Under-21 Championship qualifying defeat to Belgium.
Exeter City (from): Krysiak, Pym; Woodman, Bennett, Baldwin, Coles, Sercombe, Oakley, Gow, Davies, Doherty, Moore-Taylor, Dawson, O’Flynn, Reid, Nichols, Gosling, Keohane, Wannell, Jagger-Cane, Parkin, Tillson, Grimes, Jay, Chamberlain, Wheeler.