>Old guard set the standard as Town edge Oxford

Northampton Town 2-1 Oxford United
League Two
Saturday, January 22nd 2011

With all the hype this week about the signing of Shaun Harrad it would have been a fair disappointment for those who bought tickets based on the new influx of life into our attack to see no mention of the former Burton man on the team sheet this afternoon. The news that Harrad needed a minor mouth operation wasn’t mentioned in the build up but the fact that we have a week off next weekend means that it makes sense to do it now rather than later in the season. In any event, it was the old guard that saw us through this one in a battling display that saw the gap on the playoffs (hey, a man can but dream!) close to six points.

Andy Holt, Mr reliable himself, scored one and assisted in the other as Sammo’s men fought hard against a visiting side that were looking to extend an excellent recent run of form. Indeed it looked as though we might have to settle for a point once Tom Craddock had fired Oxford level just after half time with a neat lift over Chris Dunn following a rebound. Holt had given Town the lead just before the break in simple fashion with a header from a Michael Jacobs corner but the leveller made us work hard for a vital three points.

But with a quarter of the game to go, the returning Leon McKenzie was the hero of the hour. This time it was Holt who turned provider for the striker with a fine cross that was met equally by the head of McKenzie for the winner.

John Johnson did well to deny Oxford a late equaliser with a header from under his own cross bar and that was enough to hold the lead in place and move us back up to fourteenth in League Two.

The recent up turn in form coupled with the new faces – Francis Laurent only fit enough to play for the first half today – is enough to give us hope of a strong second half to this season. There’s still everything to play for and even though we are still a couple of games ahead of a few teams it’s still nice to see the top seven at least in view if not quite close enough to touch just yet.

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