Ah, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – the paint pot, the tin pot, the reserves’ cup to give it some of the dismissive names that has been handed to the competition over the years. This year, however, the Cobblers have actually made it through a couple of rounds and what was a much maligned cup is now starting to get a little bit exciting even if it is just because the words ‘Area Quarter Final’ will be atop the next fixture.
For the past few years we haven’t had any sort of glory in the Football League Trophy under any of it’s previous guises with the most progress being made way back in 2004 when Tuesday nights opponents Colchester United, inspired by future Cobbler Scott McGleish scoring a hat-trick, came from two down at Sixfields in the Area Semi Final to win 3-2 in dramatic style after an Ian Sampson red card and extra time.
Two seasons later and Colchester were at it again, once more knocking us out 3-2 in extra time but this time on their own turf. Since then it’s been a sorry story for Town whose best effort was a Area Quarter Final defeat at MK Dons.
But after a second League One scalp of the season there’s one game separating ourselves from a best run in this cup since that night in 2004. Win through the next round and maybe, just maybe, we can start to treat this like a positive competition and not League One and Two’s version of what the League Cup means to the ‘big boys’ of the Premier League.
Colchester seemed well on course for a hat-trick of wins against us in the trophy when Freddy Sears volleyed them in front in the first half and coupled with a strong showing performance wise the safe money was on them progressing.
But the Cobblers hit back in two frantic second half minutes with Kemar Roofe doing a lot of the damage. First, the West Brom loanee won a penalty that Bayo Alinfenwa duly converted and then set up Henoc Mukendi for his first senior goal with a glancing header in front of the North Stand.
Clinton Morrison’s late red card meant that the visitors would be left with ten men for the seconds that remained and it may already have been too late for them. The Cobblers, then, into the hat for Saturday’s Southern Area Quarter Finals draw where we will face either Torquay/Yeovil (their game was postponed on Tuesday), Brentford, Oxford, Wycombe, Leyton Orient, Southend or Plymouth. Aidy Boothroyd has already said he will have a go at winning it and with another favourable home draw in the next round you never know.
I’ll save any real excitement until that point though. Gary Johnson reunion, anyone?!
In other bits coming from the match, Shane Higgs started but didn’t finish his first match back after coming off in the first half. He’ll be out for another couple of weeks which is obviously a set back for the keeper.
Then yesterday the mini midfield crisis that has ht the centre of the park over the last few weeks was partly solved by the temporary signing of Emyr Huws, the captain of Manchester City’s Under 21s side and a fine prospect if reports a anything to go by. He should go straight into the side for Exeter’s visit on Saturday. Preview to come for that one soon.
So we’re starting to get things back on track results wise and player wise with Danny East perhaps even making it back for Saturday as well. With the rot stopped in the cup, fingers crossed for some even better progress against the Grecians at Sixfields!
Until then, we await the draw for the next stage of the JPT and hope for the best. Just don’t start your Wem-ber-ley songs just yet…