>Northampton Town (R)

>So relegation is confirmed, a drop down to a low not experienced for three seasons. Three seasons being the operative phrase there. The Cobblers haven’t, in recent years, stayed more than three seasons outside of the basement division and the curse struck again with a cruel sinking at Leeds that signalled the end of times when we can watch games in front of crowds like 30,000.

Going into the game, we were always looking to Millwall to do us that favour of getting a point at least at Carlisle to save us with the inevitable defeat for our men in claret. As soon as Carlisle scored the day began to sink in front of us, the realisation that we had to get something at Elland Road becoming more apparent by the second.

It was only a matter of time before the different class Leeds side did their stuff and got their first goal and from then on it was a slow and painful death of our League One status. Cobblers fans were together in the acceptance of the inevitable and full credit to a group of supporters that have stuck with the club right to the end of a season that has sank in front of our eyes.

The inquest now begins into what went wrong. What happened to a season that promised so much from the offset, a 4-2 win over Cheltenham, had us up in twelfth place by the New Year and featured players that can more than hold their own in League One.

The council will be blamed, the players will be blamed, too many loan players will be blamed, Stuart Gray will be blamed but the bottom line is that we simply weren’t good enough and as the old saying goes, the league table doesn’t lie. The journey back to Northampton saw League Two league tables being studied as we plotted routes to Morecambe, Barnet and Dagenham rather than Southampton, Charlton and Norwich.

Exeter fans passed us on the motorway and our coaches applauded their promotion. The scenes on the two coaches could not be in any greater contrast as The Grecians took our place in League One and we reflected on taking their place in the basement.

So what now? What’s the next chapter to be in the story of Northampton Town? Personally, I’m of the opinion that we must use this as a chance to start again. The values of Northampton Town and what is to play for and support us must return. There must be a clear out of the “dead wood” and anyone that simply doesn’t want to be here, no matter how much quality they do or don’t possess.

Youngsters like Greg Taylor, Alex Dyer and Joe Benjamin must be given their chance to shine, their chance to play for the team they’ve grown up with. Surely they would be a better bet than a loan player that hardly knows where Northampton is on a map? If they’re not good enough, fair enough, but give the lads a chance to play.

The question Stuart Gray has to ask is what more he can bring to his role. Can he see himself giving it another go? He should be given the start of the season at least. Gray has shown that he has knowledge but desperation in the loan market seemed to blind his desire to take us to the next level. If he can reassess what he has at his disposal, have a look at the promise of our youth and build a squad built for a return to League One.

Time will tell whether he will get it right but we all need to take a breather, we all need to have a time of mourning and then we all need to be back again in August for the opening day of League Two, whoever that may be against.

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