>Northampton Town 0-1 Notts County
Saturday, April 10th 2010
If there was ever an indicator of how far this Cobblers team have come since Ian Sampson took charge than this was it. Beaten 5-2 at Meadow Lane in a no contest in Sammo’s first game in charge back in September, we have regrouped and become a team that are hard to beat. In any case, County still managed to scrape a win out of Saturday’s game despite a whole hearted performance from Sammo’s men.
The atmosphere was nervy at Sixfields with the Cobblers coming off the back of a tame goalless draw with Torquay on Monday but the players gave us a start to really get behind. On fifteen minutes we thought we were in front. Steve Guinan, replacing the injured Adebayo Akinfenwa in the starting line up, was put through one on one with Kasper Schmeichal but could only shoot into his legs in a massive chance for the Town.
The Cobblers were having the best of the early possession and belittling the fact that County were gunning for the league title. John Johnson had a header saved before the same player had a shot cleared off the line in a goalmouth scramble in which Billy McKay also had a shot blocked.
Right at the end of the half, Dean Beckwith’s header flashed wide but it was the Cobblers who were on top as the half time whistle went.
You had the feeling that County still had something in their locker that they weren’t unleashing just yet and unfortunately this would prove correct just minutes into the second half. Craig Hinton, otherwise superb in the Cobblers defence, failed to clear his lines and Ben Davies swooped to slot home what turned out the be the only goal of the game.
There was plenty more drama to come though as Luke Guttridge capitalised on a flap by Schemeichal to shoot towards goal but once again the ball was cleared off the goal line.
Jason Steele earned a man of the match award from a double save just after the hour from Lee Hughes who must have thought he had doubled the lead.
Sammo then made a triple substitution with Alex Dyer, Kevin Thornton and Seb Harris replacing Billy McKay, Ryan Gilligan and Paul Rodgers. Thornton so nearly scored with his first touch when he got on the end of a left wing cross but Schmeichal pushed his effort away.
The Cobblers fought hard to get the equaliser but it was County who took home the points despite a massive battle. Sammo can be proud this evening of a sense of real fight within his ranks and we were so, so unlucky to lose this one.
There’s now five games to go and we’re down to ninth and a point off the playoffs ahead of Tuesday night’s crunch game at Rotherham United. With time running out there is no room for slip ups and by this time next week we will have a very good idea about where our season is going.