Northampton Town 1-0 Bristol Rovers
Tuesday, February 26th 2013
You know what? It might just be time to start actually believing in our heart of hearts that this Cobblers side is on course for some end of season excitement. For too long this season I’ve felt that we’ve been hovering in the top ten and in a way waiting for reality to hit and mid-table obscurity to draw us into its stomach.
Yet time and again our team have galvanised themselves, fought to the bitter end and become a side that are not only difficult to beat but one that’s resolute and determined. I would say that it started back in December when the Cobblers, on a run of three defeats on the bounce and looking down and out at Torquay, salvaged a draw through Kelvin Langmead’s rifling volley.
If we do end up with an unthinkable promotion come the end of the season we can look back at that point, and the three collected late on last night, as a big turning point. Town went on to win the next three and begin an as yet unbroken sequence of seven straight home wins. Away form was holding us back until another late salvo at Southend two weeks ago earned a huge three points with Langmead again the hero.
After battling to a draw at Wimbledon and home success number six on the bounce against Plymouth it was up to Bristol Rovers to try and stop us last night. They came very close to holding out for a goalless draw and could even have won it on any other night but the launching of one Ben Tozer throw and the scrambling home of the ball past Steve Mildenhall by Ben Harding won it for the Cobblers.
This run of results really makes you think that the fates of football are really behind us at the moment and, more realistically, that this group of players are playing for each other and together as a unit more than any Town side we’ve seen over the last few years.
Say what you like (and many do) about Aidy Boothroyd and his style of play. If I’m honest, I would much rather us be a team that wins games and gets promoted rather than one that tries to play fancy football above their level. I’ve said it before, Ian Atkins and his brand of football made me fall in love with the game and with Northampton Town Football Club. To say his approach was Route One was the understatement of the Nineties but did anyone complain when John Frain scored the only goal of the game at Wembley against Swansea City?
Don’t get me wrong, I would love us to play attractive football AND go up but in League Two it’s very rare to be able to do that. That’s what makes it such a tough league and you have to fight and scrap your way out of it. And the fact that we’re being called ‘bullies’ by some League Two rivals and ‘ugly’ by many masks a simple fact that if you look deeper than the big men up front you will find craft, application, youthful spirit, experienced heads, a safe pair of hands, consistency and flair.
It annoys me when other teams complain about coming away from Sixfields feeling that they’ve been fouled off the park rather than taking a step back and realising that the reason that they lost was because they couldn’t score as many as we did!
But none of that is going to bother anyone of a Cobblers persuasion if one of the names starting League One next season is that of Northampton Town. The games are running out and we’re suddenly seven points clear of eighth place and still just a point off the top three and the impressive looking Burton Albion.
Win ugly, win comfortably, I really don’t care. The key word is ‘win’ and if our beloved Cobblers continue to grind those wins out then I don’t think anyone of us will!