>Northampton Town 2-0 Shrewsbury Town
Saturday, April 24th 2010
The sun rays of early summer descended on Sixfields this afternoon and the Cobblers eventually claimed a big, big win to all but end Shrewsbury’s season and to keep alive our hopes that we could yet find our way into the top seven once again just in time for the season’s end.
The news that we were all waiting for was forthcoming at around ten past two with the announcement of Bayo on the team sheet and despite not scoring himself, the man who is quickly becoming an icon of Northampton Town, the striker was his usual presence and reminded us what we’d been missing in the previous three and a bit games. Andy Holt surprisingly kept his place in the back four even though Craig Hinton was available again but the man who is quickly becoming Mr reliable slotted in with a terrific display in the middle of defence.
Bayo was quickly in the middle of the action when his flicked header from a Holt throw in was just missed by Abdul Osman at the far post. It had been a decent opening from the Cobblers but the first half seemed more about neither team taking any major chances with so much at stake and both sides appeared to be waiting for the other to make their move.
Akinfenwa saw his header fly over the bar before an excellent double chance befell Liam Davis. Bayo worked the ball well on the right hand side of the goal before chipping it in towards Davis who appeared to only need to get a slight touch to give us the lead but couldn’t quite reach it. Seconds later, on his weaker right foot, Davis shot over the bar from a decent position and the game was still on a knife edge as the teams went in for the break.
With ten minutes of the second half played though we finally broke the deadlock in impressive style and of course Akinfenwa had to supply the assist. Bayo found Billy McKay who cleverly turned his man and shot low into the corner of the net for a simply massive goal.
You began to get the feeling that it would be 35 minutes of hell to come and for around twenty of those minutes we were starting to be pegged back with Shrewsbury threatening to end our season along with theirs. Andy Holt miscued and hit his own cross bar as panic set in whilst Jason Steele had a couple of dodgy kicks to edge our hearts closer to mouths.
But it was substitute Kevin Thornton who provided the icing on the cake, and in some style. Thornton, a replacement for Paul Rodgers, picked up the ball twenty five yards out and hit an absolute belter of a shot into the top corner of the net to give Sixfields a mass sigh of relief and a moment to savour.
That knocked the stuffing out of Shrewsbury and there was still time for McKay to hit the post and for Bayo, by then warming down on the sidelines after being replaced by Steve Guinan, to give us a wave and a dance.
There were chants of “Bayo, Bayo, sign the deal” from the West Stand and Akinfenwa gave a nod to his adoring public. Should the adoration be enough to keep him at Sixfields for another two seasons, it will be like a new signing next season, whatever the division we find ourselves in. For now, though, having him back in itself could yet prove to be the deciding factor in whether or not we’ll be walking up Wembley Way come the end of May.
There’s a hell of a lot to do still but if we win next week at Bradford then we know that whatever happens elsewhere this dramatic season will go to the final day.
Not sure if my nerves can hold another fornight!