After the joys of last week’s rare win came a sudden blast back down to earth from the highs that we’d created for ourselves. Southend came to Sixfields riding high and departed as the new league leaders whilst the Cobblers flopped back down to the bottom. This didn’t appear a game between two sides at either end of the spectrum though and the score line was harsh on a Cobblers side who had twice led the game and just fell apart at the last.
Those leads were taken thanks to a John Johnson scrambled effort in the opening ten minutes and Saido Berhino’s well taken finish after beating the offside trap either side of David Martin’s first goal for Southend to give us a surprise half time lead.
But the Shrimpers, playing with high spirits under Paul Sturrock these days, levelled just after the hour when Freddy Hall came out unconvincingly and clattered the impressive Liam Dickinson. Dickinson is a man playing arguably well below his level and would have a further say later on.
Two Cobblers free kick exemplified our recent luck, one that saw Michael Jacobs hit the post and another that Ben Harding was unlucky with, and sure enough Bilel Mohsni popped up with the decisive fifth goal of the game to tip it in Southend’s favour with ten minutes to go. Both Dickinson and Mohsni netted again to make it more emphatic than it should have been in the last few minutes.
There were immediate comparisons to the 7-2 thumping by Shrewsbury in November but this time seemed more like a running out of steam than a complete capitulation. What is now more important is next weekend’s absolutely crucial game with Barnet at Sixfields. The fact that there’s already five points between ourselves and the Bees makes it even more of a ‘must win’ encounter but for a Town side with just one win in thirteen at home all season it’s no given at all.
If anyone thought that the positive start to 2012 with four points from two games was the start of the escape from relegation worries then this latest spanner in the works had us all once again preparing to bite off our nails in the coming months.