The first half of 2011 would prove to be a tough period in the history of the Cobblers with a promising conclusion to 2010 turning into the start of a relegation dog fight. Momentum from back to back victories was lost to the icy weather over Christmas and there was plenty of catching up to do in the coming months.
2011 began with defeat at Crewe on New Years’ Day. A poor display from the Cobblers saw the Alex ease home with the points thanks to goals from prolific front men Clayton Donaldson and Shaun Miller either side of half-time.
That defeat looked like a small blip as Lincoln were beaten at Sixfields just two days later. Billy McKay swept home a neat half volley from an Abdul Osman cross but Josh O’Keefe looked like he’d earned a point for the Imps. John Johnson had other ideas though and rifled in a belter of a goal with two minutes to go for the winner and a league double over City.
The following Saturday saw Cheltenham come to town and McKay was in the goals again, putting the Cobblers in front after sixteen minutes but after a mix up between Ben Tozer and Chris Dun saw Wes Thomas nip in to level the game. Marlon Pack almost stole the points for the visitors with a late free kick but there was no further drama and it was four points from three games in 2011 for Ian Sampson’s men.
A disappointing defeat at Gillingham was next and the Cobblers visited the Priestfield Stadium with an injury ravaged squad. Andy Holt was employed as an emergency striker but Cody McDonald would net the only goal of the game.
An unbeaten 2011 so far at Sixfields would continue, though, with a good win over Oxford United ending the month. Holt headed in a few minutes before half time but Tom Craddock equalised. The returning Leon McKenzie had the last laugh though and he headed in the winner mid-way through the second half.