>Spireites too strong for Town

>Chesterfield 2-1 Northampton Town
League Two
Tuesday, March 8th 2011

Gary Johnson joked on his appointment that today, March 9th, should have been the date he took over as Cobblers boss so as to avoid the perilous two opening games against high flying Shrewsbury and even higher flying Chesterfield. He may not actually be thinking it but you can see his point after a couple of defeats that are showing him that the task ahead is a tough one.

Johnson drafted in two of his new loan signings straight into the starting line-up at the B2Net Stadium with Nana Ofori-Twumasi in for Paul Rodgers and Jamie Reckord replacing Ben Tozer with John Johnson moving to centre back. Kevin Thornton returned in place of Billy McKay and played a more advanced role to try and support Shaun Harrad.

The early pressure was all with the home side and had Craig Davies not missed an open goal in the first five minutes then the eventual defeat could have been a hell of a lot worse. Chris Dunn dropped the ball into the path of Jack Lester who found Davies with a gaping net but the striker somehow contrived to miss.

The Cobblers were hanging on in the early exchanges and John Johnson had to clear the ball off the line after Dunn had blocked from Craig Davies and Derek Niven had followed up with a shot that looked destined to open the scoring.

But slowly we got back into the game and finished the half stronger, threatening to break the deadlock ourselves when Harrad had a shot deflected wide and Thornton also missed a chance right at the end of the half.

A reshuffle was enforced at the break as Dean Beckwith had to withdraw through injury. Ben Tozer replaced him and the words ringing in the players’ ears would have been to keep up the form that had given us real hope before the half-time whistle halted the resurgence. But it was the home side that took back control and with just over an hour played the deadlock was broken.

Lester burst through the Cobblers defence and forced Dunn into a good stop but Davies was making no mistake this time and rattled home the rebound. And it was near enough game over just a few minutes later with Danny Whittaker’s excellent work on the left finished off by Lester for 2-0.

Time wasn’t on the Cobblers’ side but there was one last gimmer of hope with around eight minutes to play. Andy Holt continued his excellent run of form in front of goal with a header from a Jacobs corner making it 2-1 and out of nowhere we had a chance of nicking a point.

Stoppage time drama followed…Johnson had a good chance with his own head to incredibly pull it level but could only direct the ball wide in the final chance. Too little too late then for Town and a third defeat in a week. This one is a little easier to take with Chesterfield storming through the final furlong towards promotion but still there’s room for big improvements.

Gary Johnson has indicated that there might yet be a fourth short term loan man brought in this week but only if there’s an option of a longer term deal afterwards. The home game with Macclesfield needs to yield a victory really and that’s the real test of the beginnings of Johnson’s reign.

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