October was to be one of the worst months of results for many a year and the Cobblers’ memories of Anfield would soon be drowned in a disastrous period where, following defeat in the final game of September, we would extend the run of losses to six games, putting the season in real jeopardy.
After home defeat to Chesterfield on the previous Tuesday, Macclesfield away provided a decent chance of a recovery but a 2-0 defeat put pay to that idea with Hamza Bencherif putting the Silkmen in front before Nat Brown eased home the points for the home side with a neat header.
A trip to Cheltenham would give us no respite from the worrying trend beginning to build and we left pointless from Whaddon Road as well with Brian Smiklie netting the winner.
Then came one of the most disappointing days of the entire season, a home game with struggling Hereford United, bottom at the time, at Sixfields. Leon McKenzie scored a first half hat-trick and we looked like putting the woes behind us but the Bulls stunned us with a remarkable second half fight back. First Stuart Fleetwood pulled one back, little more than a consolation we thought, on the hour. Guillem Bauza, who would later join us on loan, then set up Fleetwood for a second and James McQuilkin made it 3-3. There was, from there, only one winner and Matieu Manset won it with twelve minutes to go before Ben Tozer was sent off for throwing the ball.
We couldn’t imagine it getting much worse but then came another defeat, this time at Oxford as the U’s made it look easy with a 3-1 victory. McKenzie struck again to equalise Alfie Potter’s early goal but United scored on the stroke of half time for 2-1 and wrapped it up with a Tom Craddock penalty in stoppage time when John Johnson was sent off for pulling down his man.
Not the best of times, then, to face Ipswich Town in the Carling Cup Fourth Round, the reward for that night at Anfield when players by now looking like non league standard looked like world beaters. Liam Davis put us in front against the Championship side at Portman Road but Ipswich were far too strong and ran out 3-1 victors to progress and dump us out of the competition.
So out of the cup and having lost the previous six, a Gillingham side with the returning Bayo and Danny Jackman in the line-up is that last thing we needed to come up against. True to form, Chris Palmer scored from distance to put the Gills in front. But the tide would, thankfully, turn and the Cobblers would end the shocking month of October on a high. Dean Beckwith levelled before Leon McKenzie got the winner before the break with a well taken spot kick.
At the end of October the Cobblers were in real trouble despite that victory, in 21st position as November began and big improvements were needed very quickly indeed…