The first day of March would also become the last at the club for one of its most loyal and popular people. After six consecutive draws, Ian Sampson was under pressure as boss, and with the club slipping towards the bottom of the table, a 3-2 defeat at home to Burton Albion saw him lose his job.
In a shocking performance in the first half, the Cobblers had slipped to 3-0 down within 40 minutes, including a disastrous own goal from Chris Dunn. John Johnson got one back before half time and Andy Holt netted on the hour but it wasn’t enough and Sammo was unfortunately on his way.
The man to replace him was former Bristol City and Yeovil man Gary Johnson, who started the season at Peterborough, and he was in the dugout by the time we met high flying Shrewsbury Town a few days later. We would again lose 3-2 but this time it was a cruel defeat more than anything with Michael Jacobs twice giving Town the lead. Jon Taylor would nick it for the visitors late on though and Johnson had a real task on his hands to lift a squad low on confidence.
A trip to Chesterfield wasn’t the ideal game to follow that with the Spireites topping the table going into the final couple of months and goals from Craig Davies and Jack Lester inside five second half minutes meant that the game would go to form. Andy Holt was again in the goals late on to give us hope of a revival but we couldn’t prevent a third successive defeat.
The home game against Macclesfield Town was the one that should have, on paper, been Johnson’s first win in charge but again the Cobblers would be on the losing end of a result, putting us deep in trouble at the wrong end of the table. Colin Daniel scored the only goal of the game for Macc with a well taken volley.
A draw at Bradford finally stopped the run of defeats and after Jake Speight’s early spot kick put the Bantams in front it was a decent enough result to end the game with a draw. Shaun Harrad brought us level from the spot on the hour mark to earn a share of the spoils.
There followed a dramatic Friday night back at Sixfields. The visitors, Torquay, were gunning for a playoff spot and took the lead through Eunan O’Kane before John Johnson levelled. Billy Kee struck in stoppage time and it looked like being another setback for Town until newly recruited Guillem Bauza stepped up to volley in to make it 2-2.
Despite that point, there was still only a couple of league places between ourselves and Barnet in the relegation zone. The points gap was eight points but in the coming weeks that would slowly change as we faced a huge threat of relegation…