There was no separating Northampton Town and Derby County in a close FA Cup fourth round tie on Friday night.
Derby went into the game as favourites, sitting two divisions higher than their opponents but it wasn’t shown on the pitch with Northampton having the better chances early on.
But the visitors will feel aggrieved that they were not given a free-kick in the first half when Jack Marriott was pulled down on the edge of the area by Northampton captain Charles Goode when the Derby man was through on goal which would have undoubtedly led to a red card.
Nevertheless, neither side could break the deadlock in a slightly more open first half, and they must now prepare for a replay primarily scheduled for the first week of February.
Rams frustrated by solid defence: Key stats from Northampton 0-0 Derby…
- Northampton centre-back Charlie Goode won 16 aerial duels, more than any other player.
- Frontman Vadaine Oliver also caused problems for Derby’s defence, winning 13.
- Derby completed just 65% of their attempted passes.
- Though this was still better than Northampton’s completion rate of 56%.
- There was just one shot on target in the game…
- … That came from Northampton’s Oliver in the 42nd minute.
What next for Derby?
Derby experience a poor start to the season under Phillip Cocu but had finally looked like they were on the up in recent weeks. The Rams went into Friday’s game unbeaten in their past six games across all competitions and have been moving slowly up the table to 16th – although just nine points off the play-off spots.
But while their unbeaten run has stretched to seven, there were more negatives than positives for Derby against Northampton. They seriously struggled against League Two opposition and were fortunate not to be behind early. Derby will point at the red card Northampton should have had, but the Rams did not offer enough to threaten their hosts. To have no shots on target in any game is poor, and Derby don’t have too long to get back on track with two games coming up in the next seven games.
And, somewhere in the busy schedule will be the unnecessary extra game of the replay.
Next five confirmed fixtures
28 January 2020: Luton vs Derby (Championship)
31 January 2020: Derby vs Stoke (Championship)
08 February 2020: Swansea vs Derby (Championship)
12 February 2020: Bristol City vs Huddersfield (Championship)
15 February 2020: Derby vs Huddersfield (Championship)
Can Northampton continue positive run?
Although Northampton may be feeling slightly peeved that their performance did not get the result it might have deserved, the Cobblers will be happy to see a good run going.
Like Derby, Northampton have extended their own unbeaten run to seven games across all competitions but they already stand in good stead in the league.
After 28 matches, Northampton are sixth in League Two, occupying a play-off spot and they will expect to still be around their when the season comes close to its end. But, perhaps one thing they wouldn’t have wanted was an extra game with the FA Cup replay added to what is already a clogged fixture list for teams lower down the leagues.
Next five confirmed fixtures
28 January 2020: Northampton vs Scunthorpe (League Two)
01 February 2020: Macclesfield vs Northampton (League Two)
08 February 2020: Northampton vs Port Vale (League Two)
11 February 2020: Northampton vs Swindon (League Two)
15 February 2020: Walsall vs Northampton (League Two)
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Player in focus: Wayne Rooney
Going into Friday night’s game, all focus will have been on Wayne Rooney and whether he could help this Derby side into the fifth round.
The Manchester United and England legend joined the Rams at the end of the MLS season and was quickly made club captain, assisting on his debut. He has played every game since and started at Sixfields, with many expecting him to be the difference maker considering his experience and quality – even at the age of 34.
But, starting in a flat midfield, Rooney wasn’t able to create too much, providing just two passes for his team-mates in 90 minutes, neither of which were turned into shots on target.
Sometimes in games like these Rooney would have taken it upon himself to make the difference but not any more, with the Englishman more reserved in his attacking, as shown by his failure to have a single shot. He did complete the second-most passes of any player with 37 but there were times where his passing was not good enough, or only moved Derby sideways rather than up the pitch – though credit should be given to Northampton for frustrating England’s all-time record goalscorer.
QPR 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday
- Morgan Fox scored the only goal of the game just before half-time.
- Coming from a quick throw-in by Sam Hutchinson, the left-back drilled home, beating Joe Lumley at his near post.
- The goalkeeper should have done better with the shot, allowing it to squeeze through into the back of the net. Fox’s third goal of the season.
- QPR grew into the game as the second half went on but Sam Winnall scored a second for Wednesday in injury time to secure their spot in the fifth round.
- However, there was still time for a late consolation goal for QPR from Nakhi Wells.