Saturday, April 30th 2011
Relief, jubilation and, finally, an enquiry. Three emotions quickly being rotated around the minds of Cobblers fans this weekend as a first victory in nineteen long, long games brought about survival in the Football League. The fact that we were so happy to end the season with our status in tact shows how dismal the campaign has been since that night at Anfield in September.
We can, for now, just breathe that sigh of relief that came after goals from Liam Davis and Kevin Thornton earned the crucial win over a Stevenage side that would end with just nine men on the pitch. We had luck along the way with a goal that probably should have stood for the visitors but any Town fans exiting Sixfields would not have cared a jot because combined with Accrington’s win over Barnet, it meant that we were just about there.
Davis picked up where he left off in the last home game. He netted that vital equaliser late in the day against Rotherham and unleashed a belter of a left footed shot from distance past Chris Day to give the Cobblers the lead after just three minutes this time.
There was controversy at the other end with Chris Beardsley’s shot rattling off the underside of the cross bar and bouncing on the goal line before the returning John Johnson headed it away. From the replays it certainly looks a goal and Stevenage can feel hard done by, as they would again before the half was over.
Nana went in for a 50/50 ball with Luke Foster and the Stevenage man’s lunged was adjudged to have been sufficient for a red card and the chances for that first win in an age increased following another border line decision. It seemed harsh to show Foster a red, particularly having seen a lot worse challenges be let off the hook this season. It was a shame to see so many of our players and staff appealing for the red and surrounding the officials as well but on we went and the crucial lead at half time wasn’t to be sniffed at. This was after a bizarre incident that saw a penalty appear to be given to the Cobblers before referee Mr Tierney overturned his decision!
Michael Jacobs tested Day in the early stages of the second half before the Stevenage keeper had to be at his best to match a good effort from Shaun Harrad.
But the break through just before the hour mark brought the house down. Just minutes after Accrington took the lead against Barnet, Michael Uwesu released Kevin Thornton, another to regain his starting place, and his run took him towards goal. Thornton’s right footed shot was saved but Uwesu was following up and finished coolly for 2-0.
With both results going our way, it was celebration time and the game was all but over when John Mousinho’s challenge on Michael Jacobs brought about the second red card of the game and reduced his side to nine men.
The full time whistle produced the expected pitch invasion but the celebrations/relief will have been weighed down a little by the fact that we were down in the mire in the first place. There’s plenty to point fingers at and, like I say, perhaps now is not the perfect time for that. The inquest, though, will begin now and I need to gather my personal thoughts before sharing them!
We can allow a Holiday Monday to relax ahead of the weekend trip to Morecambe now with the challenge of overtaking our opponents on the final day of the season a bit of something to play for. It’s a lot nicer than the alternative…