Kevin Nolan’s Leyton Orient side host leaders Northampton Town on Saturday. In another crunch match for the former West Ham midfielder, the Cobblers will provide a huge test to his managerial credentials.
Chris Wilder’s Cobblers arrive in E10 top of the table with a five point lead over second placed Plymouth. Northampton have a 13 point gap to fourth placed Mansfield and are in prime position to secure promotion to League 1.
Northampton suffered a major setback with their redevelopment of Sixfields earlier in the season when HMRC Revenue and Customers served a winding position. After unpaid taxes by the club, work on the new East Stand was halted and a petition was served to the club. However this seemed to pull everyone in the club together as they strived to overcome the problems and push on.
HMRC’s petiton was handed to Northampton on the 15th October and since then Wilder’s men have been unstoppable in their climb to the top of League 2.
Since October 20th – W13 D1 L1 F32 A15
Form (most recent first): WWWWWWLWWWWDWW
- Collecting 40 points from a possible 45. They have collected 12 more points than any other club in League 2 in that period.
- Their only defeat came in a 2-1 home defeat Portsmouth
- None of the 92 clubs in the top four divisions in England have taken more points than Northampton in that period.
Away Record – P13 W8 D3 L2 F25 A19
Last Time Out
The Cobblers have won their last 6 league matches, only conceding 3 goals. Their last game was a 2-0 home win against York City last Saturday with goals from John Joe-O’Toole and Marc Richards.
- They press high in the final third putting pressure on the opposition back four
- They can counter attack very well with 4 or 5 men breaking from deep
- They struggle to defend set pieces with keeper Adam Smith not comfortable coming for crosses
Top Scorers – Marc Richards 14, John Joe-O’Toole 7, Will Hoskins 5
Top Assists – Nicky Adams 12, Joel Byrom 4, Ricky Holmes 4, David Buchanan 3
Where do they Score from?
Northampton are very dangerous from set pieces. It is imperative that Orient stay switched on from dead balls and know exactly who they are marking. Chris Wilder’s men have scored 3 of their goals from either a free kick routine or taking a quick free kick:
Wycombe Away – Header from Free kick
Luton Away – O’Toole Finish
Morecambe Home – 1st Goal, Collins
Northampton have scored 51 goals this season and are the highest scorers in the division. Taking away the 2 penalties they have scored, they have 49 goals.
- 33% of their goals have come from set pieces – either corners or free kicks – 16/49
- 22% of their goals have come from corners – 11/49
- John Joe-O’Toole is a major threat, likes front post runs
Dead balls are a major strength for Chris Wilder’s side, 5 of their 7 goals have been from set pieces.
Along with their set piece prowess, Northampton love to play the ball wide and cross into the box to score goals.
30 of their 51 goals have been from crosses into the box from either the right or the left – 59%.
Away Goals Scored – 25
Right: 16% – 4 Left: 32% – 8 Center: 52% -13
Where they Concede From
Northampton are very attacking in forward areas but another key to their fine form has been they defensive stability and the form of keeper Adam Smith which Orient fans will know all to well.
From watching their previous games, it appears that Northampton are a strong side, defending from the front to prevent teams from exposing them. Dagenham had a lot of joy putting balls in the channels between the full back and center half with their striker running onto balls.
Balls over the top of the defense can exploit their back four with a number of goals being conceded with them being caught by a lack of pace
Goals Conceded 31
Right – 19% – 6 Left – 16% – 5 Center – 65% – 20
Another key aspect is despite their set piece superiority in many games this season, the Cobblers look very vulnerable to defending set pieces into their box. Adam Smith in many games has failed to claim the ball from a corner, putting his side under pressure. At corners, it appears that they don’t put men on posts which Orient could exploit on Saturday.
Chris Wilder has a quality squad at is disposal and can change his team to combat different opposition. For the majority of the season, he has changed between a 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1 formation depending on the personal he has available. For their last away league match at Plymouth, who were second at the time, they played 4-4-2.
Team against York last week –
However, Wilder’s side has been built on constant presences throughout their recent run of form. Adam Smith, Brendan Moloney, Zander Diamond, John Joe-O’Toole and Joel Byron have all played in the club’s last 14 games.
The league leaders are built solidly with the back four and O’Toole and Byrom in front of them. O’Toole and Byrom provide a shield to the defense with one of them able to join in attacking areas. Wilder likes his teams to have freedom and express themselves in attacking areas. Either in a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 formation the attacking players have license to roam in different areas.
The attacking quartet of Nicky Adams (12), Ricky Holmes (4), Alfie Potter (2) and Lawson D’Ath have created 20 of their 51 goals this season. All four of these players have the ability to cross from wide areas and have good feet to cross from either side.
A key for Nolan’s men is to ensure that Northampton do not have space to cross in to the box. The center halves will need to be aware of Marc Richards’s run across the near post as it has been a tactic in games this season.
After Orient’s performance at Portsmouth last weekend, it is clear that Kevin Nolan will do his homework on Northampton and how to overcome the test they possess. 4-5-1 was used at Fratton Park last weekend and I would not be surprised if Nolan went with the same system at Brisbane Road.
Nolan should be asking Shaun Brisley of their tactics as he did play for the Cobblers earlier in the year and will know of the strengths of them.
Probable Teams for Saturday