Northampton Town 3-1 Aldershot Town
‘Ole’ football at Sixfields? Was this really happening? With about fifteen minutes to play of yesterday’s game with Aldershot Town, a club who until last Tuesday were in one of their strongest runs of form in history, as the Cobblers sprayed passes around Sixfields there were numerous ‘oles’ going up as the claret faithful finally were able to enjoy a closing part of a match. This week there were no fight backs, no heart in mouth action at the wrong end of the pitch and no heads in hands as another lead looked in danger.
Instead there was a bizarre sense of calm, of celebration and finally of relief as the Cobblers jumped out of the bottom two and moved two points clear of the drop zone, now inhabited by Plymouth Argyle and, Tuesday’s opponents in a massive encounter, Dagenham and Redbridge. We head to the capital in a couple of days’ time with renewed swagger and confidence for, despite that home defeat to Port Vale a couple of weeks ago, Town have picked up thirteen points from a possible eighteen in the last six games. Relegation form it most certainly is not.
Despite all the talk before this game of Luke Guttridge’s ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ with Aldershot boss Dean Holdsworth there was never really a lot of doubt that the midfielder would play and the headlines were almost writing themselves in the first few minutes when he latched onto a knock down from Bayo Akinfenwa to strike just wide. But from then on it was a sub text that was completely forgotten about as the Cobblers took control and were storming into yet another half time lead.
First it was Kelvin Langmead adding to his recent upsurge in form as he latched on to a long throw from Ben Tozer to smash us in front on the twenty minute mark with a controlled volley at the far post. Then, before the break it was another long throw that led to Bayo Akinfenwa nodding in to make it five games running in which he’s found the net. After spending time on the side-lines in early 2012, Bayo has come back in remarkable fashion to rise to second top scorer in the league following this game.
The big man made it to sixteen goals, one behind current top scorer Izale McLeod of Barnet, by netting a second half penalty after Michael Jacobs was brought down and was then removed in preparation for Tuesday huge game.
Aldershot were done and we could arguably have added more. It was refreshing to be sat comfortably after the last couple of games and despite a late goal from Danny Hylton there were no nerves on the way to the collection of these three massive points in the fight for survival.
Dagenham’s defeat at Wimbledon coupled with Plymouth’s single goal loss at Rotherham means that the Cobblers are out of the bottom two ahead of Tuesday’s six pointer. The game is one of our games in hand of course and it’s a chance to extend the gap between ourselves and danger. The Daggers should be well up for it as well and there’s likely to be an intense atmosphere at Victoria Road.
It’s not going to be the be all and end all of the season of course but it could go a long, long way to determining whether the Cobblers will be fighting this battle to the very end of the season or whether there is actually a route out before the bottoms begin to squeak…