Cobblers clinging on despite defeat

Cheltenham Town 1-0 Northampton Town

League Two

Monday, April 1st 2013

The dream scenario that could have come from this first six pointer of the run-in was unfortunately a step too far on Monday afternoon as the Cobblers were beaten by the narrowest of margins. There was such a thin line between the standings as they are now and how they would have looked had Town nicked an equaliser but as it was we came home with nothing and are left trying to build ourselves back up for another difficult trip to Bradford on Saturday afternoon.

Incredibly we still ended the day in the top three thanks to a late, late goal from Accrington’s James Beattie that earned his side a draw against Burton Albion who were looking set to leap back into third place as their game entered stoppage time. But as the run in is narrowed to five games, the Cobblers desperately need to find form on the road ahead of some tricky trips if we are to be celebrating more than a playoff place in a few weeks’ time.

Fleetwood and Southend’s draw early in the day meant that we are looking ever more likely to finish at least in the top seven, something of an achievement in itself after the last couple of seasons battling the drop, but Cheltenham managed to ensure that they stayed on course for the bigger prize by dragging us to within a couple of goals’ difference.

The first half was innocuous enough right up until the last two minutes. The Cobblers were holding out well and were looking like heading into the break on level terms thanks to reducing the home side to long range efforts for the majority of the half. But Aidy Boothroyd’s team talk was changed when Steve Elliot followed up a parry from Lee Nicholls to slot the Rubies in front.

Goals around the rest of League Two were tipping the scales of the promotion race this way and that but whatever happened elsewhere it could have been a massive moment had we found the leveller after half-time. Town came out with more purpose and Bayo Akinfenwa headed over before Chris Hackett hit a rocket from range that the home keeper did well to tip away for a corner.

There was to be no late show this time from Boothroyd’s men though and it was then all about checking the other results. Burton were 3-2 up right up until the last seconds of injury time at Accrington but former England striker Beattie scrambled in what could be a game changing goal to mean that the Brewers dropped two points. The psychological effects of that could be lasting and they will need to find something extra when they visit Port Vale on Friday night.

By the time we go to Bradford we will know what at least two of our rivals have done but the main thing about Saturday is that we need three points away from home more than ever. If we can nick it at Valley Parade it would set up a home game against York City nicely and suddenly there could be a chance of not only confirming a playoff place but of making the automatic promotion dream a big possibility.

This one wasn’t the end of the world if we can dig deep and pull something out of the bag in Yorkshire in a few days’ time. The drama goes on…

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