Southend United 1-2 Northampton Town
Saturday, February 16th 2013
Ah, the fickle nature of football! I was preparing a blog slating the defensive tactics of Aidy Boothroyd after the Cobblers looked like they had dropped two points and were on the way to dropping all three against ten men having sat back on a 1-0 lead. I was expecting to be writing a frustrated piece on how we had let a major chance pass us by but now I sit here once again rethinking a season that takes another twist and turn almost every week.
The reason for this rejig was Kelvin Langmead’s latest stoppage time winner that puts Town back in the League Two playoff places in what could turn out to be one of the biggest moments of the season when we look back at it in May.
Other subtexts meant that this game was written in three distinct acts, though.
Act One began with the Cobblers taking an early lead through Roy O’Donovan as the former Coventry man scored his first for the club – getting on the end of a Clive Platt flick – and the returning hero/villain Bilel Moshni making an unexpected return to the Southend side as a defensive crisis meant that the much maligned Frenchman was hauled back into the starting line-up despite previously refusing to train with his club mates. Moshni’s future looked to be anywhere but at Roots Hall but such was the need for defensive cover it seems Paul Sturrock had no choice but to bring him back in. His impact, though, saw Sturrock back to square one as he robbed his side of another option by producing a dangerously high challenge on Chris Hackett that saw him sent off and giving his side an uphill battle.
Act Two started after half-time as Town decided to take the defensive stance that was inviting the Shrimpers on slowly but surely. Any Cobblers fan could have written the script and sure enough Matthew Lund, on loan from Stoke, flicked the ball on and Kelvin Langmead looked to have put into his own net for 1-1. From then, it looked as if the ten men would be the ones to win if either side were going to.
But, gloriously, Act Three ended with a final twist and saw a reshuffle as Bayo, starting from the bench, entered the fray and Boothroyd’s men changed formation with a view to regaining control. There were one or two hairy moments with Freddy Eastwood curling a free kick onto the top of the net and a couple of scary goal mouth scrambles meaning it was heart in mouth stuff for anyone of the Cobblers persuasion. Langmead, having stayed strong at one end, was ready to put things right at the other and, as the game reached time added on, he powered the ball home from a corner to send the just under 500 travelling fans wild and all those at home jumping around their living rooms.
Langmead, just under a year ago, had won a game at Burton in completely different circumstances but no less dramatically and also netted a stoppage time leveller at Torquay earlier this season. The man once thought to be the weak link of the Cobblers squad is now well on course to becoming Player of the Year in an extraordinary turning around of an individual.
As for his team, it’s the away win they’ve desired by hook or by crook and we’re up to seventh again ahead of the trip to Wimbledon on Tuesday night. The league’s bottom club will be buoyed by a victory over Bradford City today but we need to pick up a result there to hammer this one home and entice more support to what could be a massively popular home game against Plymouth Argyle next weekend.
Time to have a breather for a couple of days before that one and to revel in an actual victory away from home against one of our promotion rivals!