Psychologically yesterday’s draw at Shrewsbury could prove to be one of the biggest results of the year and coming at the very beginning of 2012 is a positive sign in itself with the Cobblers finally putting to bed some of the painful memories of the 7-2 defeat to the Shrews back in November. You can tell how far a team has come by comparing two games against the same opposition and not for a while have two performances been different from a Cobblers perspective.
The previous meeting was full of mistakes, cringe worthy defensive moves and a complete lack of organisation followed by a full on rant by then stand in boss David Lee. In a complete reversal for this tough away game, we started with a manager boarding the Cobblers fan’s coach to thank the supporters for sticking with the side promising better and wishing them a Happy New Year and ended with a worthy point against a side who will no doubt be in the promotion shake up come May.
Akwasi Asante made his debut alongside Saido Berahino up front with Bayo Akinfenwa starting, and this time finishing, on the bench. Good news for the loan front two who combined to open the scoring with Berahino finishing from an Asante run and pass but bad news for the big man who had to sit out of the entire ninety minutes. That move immediately started rumours flying around that Bayo could be off this month but I think people are looking too far into it at the moment. Boothroyd is still trying to find his formula for success and two games on the bench doesn’t automatically mean the end for Akinfenwa.
Shrewsbury were level before half time with Matt Richards’ shot from distance finding the corner of the net but after a barrage in the second half we came away with a hard earned point thanks to some heroics from Shane Higgs keeping us in the game through saves from James Hurst, Marvin Morgan and, in stoppage time, Lionel Ainsworth.
Thanks to that defensive success, something that we couldn’t have dreamed of saying a couple of months ago, the Cobblers begin 2012 back off the bottom of the table thanks to Plymouth’s defeat at local rivals Torquay United but with Dagenham, Hereford and Barnet all picking up points we’re three points from safety ahead of a tough couple of weeks against Morecambe and Southend that’s followed by a home game with Barnet in what’s looking like a huge six pointer.
So as 2012 kicks in there’s reason to finally be cheerful and optimistic at Northampton Town and that’s one hell of a start after what’s already happened this season!