Northampton Town 1-0 Burton Albion
Saturday, January 26th 2012
Two big talking points came from Saturday’s narrow win over Burton Albion, one huge in terms of the new look League Two table and one arguably even bigger coming from the possibility of the Cobblers’ talisman Bayo Akinfenwa leaving the club. Just as it was back in August we are hanging on the edge of losing the big man, this time off the back of a fifteenth goal of the season in this latest home victory.
Sixfields has been called a ‘second home’ by Bayo over the last couple of days and if he continues to be housed by our quaint dwelling on Upton Way it could well go a long way towards helping us towards holding onto this positive league position all the way up until May.
That position is now sixth following a number of postponements from other games over this weekend. It’s by no means a false position though – this victory in a way counts towards our game in hand and brings us level on games played with most of our closest rivals who are clamouring for a place in the top seven. Indeed, a victory at Aldershot on Tuesday night, a night when no others in League Two play, would lift us temporarily into third. Let’s not get that carried away just yet though!
Burton came to Sixfields looking to end Town’s run of home victories that have helped us to this elevated perch in League Two but after a first half that saw the Cobblers dominate the opening exchanges and the visitors slowly come back into things it was goalless at the break.
Cue Bayo after a run of games without a goal to notch his fifteenth of the campaign and one in a similar mould to many of his others – a header from a Ben Tozer cross. The only difference with this one was that Tozer crossed with his feet and not with his hands from a long throw but either way it was the goal we needed to clinch a tight game.
We simply must back these good home results with performances on the road if we are to stay in the running for the top seven at the end of the season and with two games on the road scheduled next there’s a good chance to put that particular trait of our season right.
There has to be a mention for the fantastic Sixfields ground staff and the twenty or so volunteers that did a superb job of clearing the pitch and the surrounding area so that the game could go ahead. The snow affected all but three League Two games on Saturday and it’s a testament to those people that ours went ahead with a slice of the winning satisfaction going straight to them.
Now it’s all about the panic stations that surround the transfer window and Bayo is being talked about all over again. With a contract that’s up in the summer and the Cobblers boss talking in a way that suggests there will be departures over the next week or so there’s big speculation that Akinfenwa could be off on the next leg of his trail blazing journey across the Football League.
This has to be thought about from two perspectives- the clubs and the players’. The Cobblers simply cannot afford to let go a man that is not just a leading scorer but a figurehead of the club on and off the pitch if there is no plan to bring someone else in. I would argue that that for the price that a Bayo sale would bring, there is no-one that could offer what he does. The fee will be reduced because of the contract situation so is there really another alternative that would fill what would be a pretty gaping hole in the Town attack? Of course if silly money comes in then we may not have a choice but Mr Boothroyd needs to tread very carefully, even more so considering that a mid-table season could turn into a playoff campaign with the right run of results.
Looking from Bayo’s perspective I can’t see many moves in this division that would satisfy him. I would imagine that a move to League One at this stage in his career would be one that he wouldn’t want to turn down but in League Two there would surely be nothing better for him then to lead the team from his ‘second home’ into that division.
There would be life without the big man, of course there would, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be worrying our claret heads off over the coming few days, hoping that the window freezes shut early this year!
First comes (weather depending) that trip to Aldershot and maybe just one more chance to show the big man that his current team are good enough to carry him through to League One themselves.
Fingers crossed – on many fronts!