Northampton Town 1-0 Torquay United
Friday, March 29th 2013
I forgot how special and emotional these promotion pushes can be. Sat in a pool side restaurant here in Peru, five hours behind English time and with the sun beaming down it would be easy to feel detachment from the Cobblers’ Good Friday encounter with Torquay United. But as soon as the game started and I found relevant connection to stream commentary I was right back in and it was as if I’d never left the shores of England, for a couple of hours at least.
This was set to be a big one, with any sort of victory set to propel us into the top three in League Two. It reminded me a lot of Ian Taylor’s solitary goal in a 1-0 win over the Gulls during the promotion season of 2006. On that occasion, Colin Calderwood was masterminding a campaign of success thanks to many victories of that kind and it seems Aidy Boothroyd has the same formula. On that occasion, Town won the game to go second in the table despite a backdrop of ridiculous booing of the Scottish Cobblers boss up until Taylor’s goal. This was a similar outcome but there’s no chance of Boothroyd receiving such negativity from the stands.
Instead, he’s slowly rebuilding a reputation and whether you like him or not, with six games to play he is at the helm of a side well in the running for automatic promotion. Despite much of the usual optimism at the start of the season I don’t think any of us would have expected to see that sentence being written back in August.
Torquay gave as good as they got by all accounts and were desperately unlucky not to have been given the chance to take the lead in the second half thanks to what seems like a stone wall penalty missed by the officials.
It’s this sort of luck that’s helped us along the way in recent weeks with last minute goals, stubborn defensive displays and a home record to savour creating the perfect mix for the run in. This was no different as Town notched the only goal of the game through Roy O’ Donovan’s strike five minutes from time, creating a roar not heard at Sixfields for a very long time.
The visitors left wondering how they had failed to take home at least a point from a game that they were always in but in terms of a relegation battle they should be pretty comfortable based on this showing.
With six games to play this promotion race is becoming ever more real and the game at Cheltenham Town on Monday afternoon is a six pointer in every sense of the word. The Cobblers sit three points clear of the Rubies with a game in hand so any sort of result there would be a big step towards keeping them at arm’s length. It’s that, and the other three of four away games that are likely to shape whether it’s automatic promotion or a place in the playoffs come the end of April.
The fact that we’re talking of the playoffs as a genuine option now and a possible worst case scenario is amazing. If we can keep our nerve away from home and continue this astonishing run at Sixfields then the roar heard today – epicentre at Upton Way with ripples reaching around the globe – is just the beginning.
Burton Albion…it’s your move next…