Northampton Town 1-3 Bradford City
We’re not quite there just yet. This was meant to be the day when safety was ensured, when it went beyond mathematics and the day in which we could all rejoice in confirming league status for another season. Unfortunately Bradford City didn’t see things that way and were on the hunt for precious survival points as well. They clearly hadn’t read our carefully laid out script and forced the Cobblers out of the game to ensure themselves the luxury of survival instead.
The difference in the first half was the burying of chances – quite a simple difference but one that’s effective in winning football matches, I find. Bradford’s Nahki Wells converted twice to have his side in front by the break, either side of three Cobblers chances that were all cleared off the goal line and one Ben Tozer effort that struck the bar.
There was the briefest of responses from Aidy Boothroyd’s men with Clarke Carlisle heading in his first in Town colours but within seconds that two goal lead was restored as Wells completed an impressive hat-trick and virtually ended the match despite there being over half an hour still to play.
You got the feeling that it just wasn’t to be our day. There would be no late come back this time, no drama in stoppage time. Quite simply Bradford seemed more up for it and we have to be careful not to let complacency slip in for the final few weeks of the season.
With Macclesfield picking up a point against Crewe we are eight points clear of the drop with the bottom two having nine to play for. It’s a massively unlikely possibility that we’ll be scrapping away for survival on the final day but I wouldn’t fancy us too much at Crawley on Tuesday meaning that next weekend’s trip to Hereford could be the one where we either confirm safety once and for all or get sucked right back into the race.
Today will hopefully be just a wakeup call that some of the players needed. There’s areas of the pitch where massive improvement is needed and it’ll be a long, hard slog of a summer for Boothroyd to get a squad together. That, unfortunately, starts with players leaving and those on the brink of departure need to step up their games now or they will definitely be on their way, especially if the manager does indeed intend to crop the squad down to nineteen or twenty players.
Let’s hope for better at Crawley…I for one would love us to put a dent in their automatic promotion hopes by securing safety. Stranger things have happened…