O’DONOVAN IS FINALLY ON SONG
Roy has found joy again at Cobblers
ROY O’Donovan has hit form at just the right time and the Northampton striker plans to put two years of pain behind him by seeing off Cheltenham and firing the Cobblers to play-off success.
The 27-year-old left Sunderland for Coventry in 2010 but his bit-part role for the Sky Blues saw his confidence wane and his fitness deteriorate.
A loan spell to Hibernian last season did little to help, two goals in 16 appearances was hardly the sort of form that convinced Aidy Boothroyd to snap him up when he was Coventry boss.
But now back under Boothroyd’s tutelage at Sixfields, and with three goals in his last three games including the winner against the Robins in the first leg on Thursday, the former Republic of Ireland U21 international admits he’s back enjoying his football.
“When I came back in February I hadn’t played for so long it was always going to take a bit of time getting back to match fitness,” said O’Donovan, who played a total of 24 games in two-and-a-half years with Coventry before a January switch to Northampton.
“It’s been a long two years prior to coming here, so I’m starting to feel good now, I’m feeling sharp and I’m getting the odd chance now which is nice.
“I was just delighted to hit the back of the net, I’m in a good spell of form now so it bodes well, I’m feeling match fit.
“I thought Chris Hackett did very well, as he did all night, he deserved his man of the match award and he cut a superb ball back and I swung my right foot at it and fortunately it ended up in the back of the net, hopefully there is more of them to come.
“It happened so fast, I didn’t really have time to think, I was already celebrating by the time I thought about it.
“We’re pleased, I thought we played quite well and we dominated large parts of the game, but Cheltenham are very dangerous on the break so we have to be wary, especially with them being at home.”
Northampton are likely to be unchanged from the first leg at Sixfields, but Cheltenham could be without defender Michael Hector, who limped off with a rib injury early in the second half.
And despite taking a deficit back to Whaddon Road, Robins midfielder Russell Penn believes they can bounce back.
“The first leg didn’t go the way we wanted in football terms, but the plan was to still be in the tie with a game to go, and with our home record we’re happy just to have the one-goal deficit,” said the 27-year-old.
“I think we had a few halfchances ourselves, but in the second half they had a ten or 15minute period of barrages and a few long throw-ins but we stood up to them.
“I thought Steve Elliott was magnificent as was goalkeeper Scott Brown, and if you’re going to get to Wembley you need performances from your top players.
“The tie is over two legs, so we’re relatively happy. It’s up to us to turn it on and bring our home form into use.”
KEY MOMENT: Roy O'Donovan, right, scores Northampton’s winner on Thursday
UP IN THE AIR: Cheltenham’s Russell Penn, top, with Ishmel Demontagnac