>Northampton Town 2-3 Shrewsbury Town
Saturday, March 5th 2011
Gary Johnson learned the best and worst from his new side yesterday as the Cobblers were unlucky to lose against impressive Shrewsbury Town. With the new era starting as the old one ended, with a 3-2 home defeat, it was still an improvement and gave Johnson plenty to think about.
One thing he will be delighted about will be that Michael Jacobs is tied down to a new contract. His two belters that twice gave the Cobblers the lead at Sixfields would have very much impressed the new boss who didn’t pick the team but did insist on being in the dug out despite only joining the club on Friday morning.
Jacob’s crackers weren’t enough though to see off a strong resistance from Shrewsbury who got back on track after a heavy home defeat to promotion rivals Bury on Tuesday night. Their goals weren’t exactly tap ins either as Sixfields was treated to their own mini goal of the month competition.
Shaun Harrad returned but Leon McKenzie was missing through injury as was Kevin Thornton with an illness. Marcus Hall missed out as well so Paul Rodgers filled in at left back. Jacobs was the one setting the pace though and a stunning strike on six minutes, blasted in off the under side of the bar from distance, set the tone for a frantic afternoon.
Shrewsbury were back on terms a couple of minutes later though just as the home fans were catching their breath with David Davis smashing the ball home from just inside the area – game on!
Chances at both ends followed with Harrad unlucky after being sent through with a shot blocked after he lifted the ball over visiting keeper Ben Smith and Jon Taylor testing Chris Dunn and Matt Harrold wasting the rebound for the Shrews.
It didn’t stop in the second half though and Jacobs would go on to net an even better second goal than his opener when he beat one man, dribbled past another and curled an absolute beauty into the top corner.
With our recent record of holding leads, though, it was no surprise that Shrewsbury would hit back. The speed of response was almost as quick as the first with James Collins’ shot beating Dunn all ends up for 2-2 and yet another terrific goal.
It was all set up for a frantic finale but it wasn’t to be for Johnson in his first game in charge. Taylor, having gone close earlier, made the most of hesitant defending from the Cobblers and fired the winner from the edge of the area. Nerves may have played a part but we just didn’t seem to want to clear the ball and paid the ultimate price.
So all three points were lost and Shrewsbury got their reward. They’ll certainly be up there come the end of the season and there’s no real shame in losing to them – as there won’t be should we come back from Chesterfield pointless on Tuesday night. The big test, and a game more likely for Johnson to be judged on, comes next Saturday at home to Macclesfield Town.
Big week in the reshuffling of the Cobblers then, with Johnson already implying that more players will be brought in on loan from his contact book. Defenders are surely on that list after another frustrating result but on the flip side he will have seen the potential of one or two of his most prized new assets.