O’DONO­VAN IS FI­NALLY ON SONG

Roy has found joy again at Cob­blers

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO PLAY-OFFS - By James Heath

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.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

KEY MO­MENT: Roy O'Dono­van, right, scores Northamp­ton’s win­ner on Thurs­day

UP IN THE AIR: Chel­tenham’s Rus­sell Penn, top, with Ish­mel De­mon­tagnac

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