We caught up with Goalkeeping Coach Dan Watson to discuss this season so far, the development of the goalkeeping department and his view on the final nine games of the campaign…
Watson joined the Cobblers in October 2018, teaming up again with manager Keith Curle and assistant manager Colin West after the trio had worked together at Carlisle United and has helped oversee 13 clean-sheets in this Sky Bet League Two season so far.
“As goalkeepers, we pride ourselves on clean sheets. We always set a target each season, and we’ve nearly hit that with nine games to go which is great,” he said.
“It’s always good for the team to keep clean sheets so we work hard to get them and give ourselves the best chance possible. It also gives me a quiet Sunday if we do because the manager isn’t ringing me up asking what happened when we conceded this goal or that goal!”
David Cornell has started the majority of games in goal for Cobblers this season, however Steve Arnold has instead featured over recent weeks and Watson was full of praise for the ‘keeper having only made two league appearances prior to his clean sheet in the 3-0 victory over Grimsby Town.
“Steve is a great character and he’s been great since he’s come into the club. He’s supported Dai all season and he’s never let his own standards slip in training despite not playing as much as he’d have liked to.
“In and around the dressing room he’s a great character and now it’s his time to shine, he’s been given an opportunity and he’s keen to kick on. He’s at 100% every day, in every session and he’s a great person to have around the place.
“David is naturally disappointed to have missed out over the last couple of games, nobody wants to be out of the team and even more so when we’re well-positioned in the table and among the play-off places.
“We had a chat and he’s focused on keeping his levels and his standards high because he’s a top ‘keeper and he’s fantastic every day in training, too. He’s still extremely positive and focused and will be ready if he’s selected.”
Watson was also keen to stress how hard the goalkeepers, including the youth-team stoppers, work each day on the training pitch, stating that each drill and each session is taken on with full focus and intensity, and he says that’s vital in creating a competitive environment.
“When we’re out on the grass they all know that it’s time to work. On day one I said they’ll all need to buy into my methods and trust in what I’m asking them to do. They all have done and when the balls are rolling, they know the attention to detail must be spot on.
"It’s been important for our young up-and-coming 'keepers to be in and around the first-time environment this season and it’s something I massively encourage.
"We don’t just throw them straight in and expect them to be swimming on their own, but we like to give them a taste of that environment a couple of times each week and work from there. It builds their confidence and they’ve certainly benefitted from the experience.
“We do have some down-time in between drills or sessions and that’s when they can have a bit of fun and some banter with each other and it makes for a positive, hard working environment.”
The Cobblers head into Saturday’s game at Forest Green Rovers in the play-off places, and Watson says it’s a time to focus on picking up as many points as possible during the final nine games, as well as enjoy the fact that the club are in this position.
“We’re in a great position with nine games to go, it’s in our hands now and it’s exciting for everybody associated with the club. It’s not just a season that’s going to fizzle out, we’re in serious contention and among the play-off places so it’s important we have a strong end to the season.”