While the transfer window clicks into action, players decide their futures and contracts are discussed, it’s a good time to have a look back on the season just gone…one of Sixfields joy, away day trauma and of unexpected conclusions. It all started back in August when the eventual Championship title winners were beaten at Sixfields…
The Cobblers kicked off the 2012/13 campaign in a less traditional way than the usual curtain raisers of football seasons. The League Cup began before the league season got under way so the first fixture of the new season would come against Championship side Cardiff City at Sixfields – a stern test for the new crop of Town players.
Aidy Boothroyd had been busy in the transfer market over the summer, releasing many of Gary Johnson’s signings and bringing in his own squad to try and erase memories of another close call the previous season in terms of battling the drop. Michael Jacobs had departed to Derby County whilst the likes of Arron Davies (Exeter), Lewis Young (Yeovil) and Byron Webster (Also Yeovil) were also allowed to leave. Coming in the other way were the likes of Clive Platt, Dave Artell, Ishmel Demontagnac, Alex Nicholls, Chris Hackett and Joe Widdowson whilst Lee Nicholls signed on a season long loan from Wigan Athletic.
Dean Snedker was in goal for the opening game of the season, though, with Widdowson, Artell, Hackett, Platt and Alex Nicholls all starting against the new look Cardiff side who had changed their first choice kit to red over the summer as they began a season that would end in promotion to the Premier League. Heidar Helguson put the visitors in front from the spot early on but Artell marked his debut with the equaliser, heading in before half-time. Alex Nicholls won it for the Cobblers with his own header, beating former Peterborough man Joe Lewis in the Cardiff goal just after the break to send Town through to Round Two.
The first league game of the season came at Spotland with recently relegated Rochdale looking to begin their fight to return to League One at the first attempt. Clive Platt went closest for the Cobblers but both sides cancelled each other out in a goalless draw that reflected a positive start for Aidy Boothroyd’s men.
Back at Sixfields and a quick fire home double header was up next, starting with Steve Evans bringing his new Rotherham side to town. Chris Hackett struck a superb volley in for the opening goal mid-way through the first half but Ben Pringle equalised for the Millers thanks to a big deflection that beat Lee Nicholls just before half-time. It was to be end to end stuff in the second half and it was the Cobblers who nicked it late on thanks to a well taken Alex Nicholls goal after the striker latched on to the end of a flowing move involving Hackett and Platt.
A few days later and Southend United were battling to a dramatic draw at Sixfields with all six goals in a thriller coming in the second half. Britt Assombalonga put the Shrimpers in front before Bayo Akinfenwa scored his first goal of the season to level it up shortly after. Kane Ferdinand made it 2-1 to Southend before Dave Artell scoring his second of the campaign after a mistake from visiting keeper Cameron Belford and Alex Nicholls headed in with four minutes to go with a goal that looked to have won it for Town. But Ryan Cresswell’s header earned his side their first point of the season and denied the Cobblers deep into injury time.
The final game of August saw Wolverhampton Wanderers knock us out of the League Cup at Sixfields. Clive Platt had equalised Danny Batth’s early goal but Frank Nouble put the Championship side back in front in first half stoppage time. A debut goal from Bakary Sako made the win complete right at the death.
That was to be the only black mark against the first month of the season, though, with Town collecting five points from some tough fixtures as well as beating the eventual Championship title winners along the way. It made a change to start pretty positively and we would take an unbeaten league run into September…
League Position (at the end of the month): 9th
Highlight of the month: Making Steve Evans’ frown that bit larger by beating Rotherham at Sixfields
Lowlight of the month: League cup exit and Southend’s late, late equaliser