The new season kicked off with high hopes for the Cobblers with Ian Sampson leading a charge towards the playoffs in the second half of the previous campaign leading to real anticipation ahead of the 2010/11 season.
New faces included Oscar Jansson (loan) in goal and Marcus Hall at the back as we made the long trip to Torquay for the first game of the new season. Fellow new signings Tadhg Purcell and Nathanial Wedderburn were on the bench for the trip to Plainmoor with John Johnson given a second debut following his permanent move from Middlesbrough.
The hopes and expectations would soon be blown away though as the hosts blew us away, scoring the opening goal just before half time through Kevin Nicholson. Chris Zebroski doubled the lead just after half time and within five minutes of the restart it was 3-0 and game over when Elliot Benyon made it three.
A huge regroup needed then for the Tuesday night curtain raiser at Sixfields as the first home game of the season brought Brighton and Hove Albion to town in the first round of the Carling Cup. Michael Jacobs, one of the young stars of pre-season, would begin a memorable season for him personally by scoring his first goal in professional football on thirteen minutes. Billy McKay headed home a few minutes later and so began a cup run that would take us eventually to an extraordinary night in September.
Back to the league and a tame 0-0 draw with Accrington Stanley at home was followed by an excellent point at Gigg Lane as David Worrall equalised a Steve Guinan penalty to earn Bury a draw against an improving Town side.
The Second Round of the Carling Cup took the Cobblers to Reading and an incredible game ended 2-2 at the end of ninety minutes. Matt Mills had put the Championship side in front but Andy Holt levelled things. Hal Robson-Kanu had the Royals in front again but Kevin Thornton equalised once more for Sammo’s men. Into extra time and Reading led for a third time as Mills struck again but deep, deep into added time, Alex Konstantinou bundled the ball home with the aid of a couple of deflections to take it to penalties. Simon Church had his kick saved, giving us a huge advantage and after successful conversions from Guinan, Thornton and Jacobs, Jake Taylor also missed. Abdul Osman stepped up for the crucial fourth spot kick and kept his nerve to send the small travelling contingent wild and put yet another brick in the road en route to our greatest night a month later.
A home draw with Wycombe back in League Two was another to feature a late equaliser for the Cobblers with Kevin Thornton’s penalty giving us a third straight league draw.
The Johnstone’s Paint Trophy would round off the month but there would be no upset this time as League One Hartlepool United eased to a 4-0 win on a dismal Tuesday night at Victoria Park. Evan Horwood, Anthony Sweeney, Andy Monkhouse and Dennis Behan netted for the Monkey Hangers with all four goals coming within nine minutes of each other!
So a strange old start to the season once again with no league wins but two cup victories over teams in higher divisions. Then came the news that September would feature a Carling Cup trip to Anfield and we could never even imagine in our wildest dreams what was to come…