Fortress breached!

Chambers...City opener

Chambers…City opener

Northampton Town 0-2 York City

League Two

Saturday, April 13th 2013

The run that’s taken the Cobblers into this race for promotion has almost entirely been forged on the back of home form. Sixfields has become a place to recuperate from away defeats, a sanctuary where we know that results are best achieved. But on Saturday afternoon, the fortress was breached and, combined with other results going gloriously against us, that led to the near collapse of dreams of automatic promotion.

The Minstermen were likely dark horses despite their league position, rejuvenated under their new boss, former Northern Ireland chief Nigel Worthington and coming into the game looking to jump out of the bottom three. It’s a similar situation to the one we found ourselves in a little over a year ago. Aidy Boothroyd had brought his own brand of football in, turned the club around and helped us to safety. Worthington still has work to do but is well on course on the back of this display that overpowered the Cobblers and sunk us into questions of even making the playoffs.

The one saving grace in that respect was that Exeter City and Chesterfield – the two chasing sides – picked up just a point and have just six to play for each. Town now sit in sixth place with just one more win needed to guarantee a spot in that lottery. There’s still outside hope of somehow toppling the likes of Burton, Cheltenham and Rotherham to climb back to third place but the performance against York appears to have suddenly sent us all into gloom.

But what if this was exactly what we needed? I remember back in the year 2000 when the plucky Halifax Town came to Sixfields needing points for their own battle against the drop. The Cobblers had just lost at Plymouth but were a shoe in to bounce back. 3-2 up at the break, it looked like early jitters had been redeemed until Halifax fought back in dramatic style to first draw level and then win it in stoppage time.

The Cobblers went on to win their final six games that followed, culminating in a day that we will never forget at Torquay when all three sides (one was in the process of being built) of the ground were rocking with sections of Town fans. Now I’m not saying that we’re about to win all of our remaining fixtures to nip in for third place but it’s an example of things looking dire and suddenly turning around.

I remember feeling that it was all over on that day against the men from the Shay and I’m getting similar feelings from many after this defeat to York. There are, of course, only three games to go but rather than seeing this as the doom and gloom that it could be, we should perhaps be relieved that we’ve been ‘found out’ at home at least in time for the playoffs which are looking like a worst case scenario.

You have to give credit to York themselves who sounded like they came to Sixfields to play football and come away with more than just a point. They left with all three and good luck to them. This was a moment that they will look back on as key if they’re to stay in the Football League.

What Aidy Boothroyd needs to do now is to make the changes that most supporters can see are needed and be bold enough to really go for it for these three cup finals that we now face. Luke Guttridge needs to start to liven up a midfield that seems bent on caution and unfortunately for Bayo, the Beast Mode era appears to have stalled. Clive Platt, if fit, should be handed his chance once again.

Let’s concentrate on that Wycombe game. It’s a last chance to bring ourselves to the brink of being in with a chance of the top three again. Five points separate us from Burton who stole a crucial 1-0 win against Plymouth deep into stoppage time on Saturday and if we can somehow make that gap two points then it’s game on again no matter who the opposition are on Saturday.

Yes, alright it’s Port Vale who will be in search of the points they need to win promotion themselves. But let’s worry about that once Tuesday is over. If Aidy can dip into his locker and pull something, anything out of it for the trip to Adams Park it not only gives the players belief again but also gives the supporters something to cling on to. One more win is needed for the playoffs, three for a chance at automatic promotion. It’s very unlikely but when have we ever done things simply, without taking the supporters on a roller coaster journey before the final reckoning?

Keep the faith and keep holding on to anything you can…this is NOT over yet.

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