NTFC Season in Review 2012/13: October

Nicholls...horror injury in October

Nicholls…horror injury in October

The Cobblers would kick off October by suffering back to back defeats for the first time in the season.

First up, a home game against runaway leaders Gillingham saw us come up short as the Gills continued their 100% away record by winning 2-1 at Sixfields. Deon Burton got on the end of a long ball from keeper Staurt Nelson to put the Gills in front before Jack Payne made it 2-0 with a long range effort. Bayo Akinfenwa scored from a Ben Tozer throw in but there was to be no late fight back.

A trip to struggling Bristol Rovers followed with the Gas going into the game having not won at home all season. That was soon to change as Rovers took advantage of Anthony Charles’ red card for the Cobblers to go on and comfortably win the game thanks to three second half goals. Tom Eaves got the ball rolling before Garry Kenneth made it two shortly after. Bayo got one back with fifteen minutes to go with a carbon copy of his goal against Gillingham but Oliver Norburn headed in the crucial third for the home side.

There was a brighter moment the following Tuesday night when Town put Colchester United out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. The League One side took the lead in the first half with Freddy Sears volleying in past Dean Snedker in the Cobblers goal. But second half goals from Bayo (from the spot) and loanee Henoc Mukendi, with a glancing header, turned it around and we were in the hat for the next round.

Back in the league and there was some catching up to do with Exeter City in town. After two defeats in a row in League Two there was a big emphasis on getting back to winning ways and we did it emphatically. Akinfenwa volleyed in to open the scoring and Kelvin Langmead made it 2-0 before half time. The Grecians threatened to get back into it briefly after the break but Chris Hackett’s free kick was headed in by Alex Nicholls for the cherry on the cake late on.

Next up was the dreaded fixture away at Barnet and with the Bees without a win all season and with Edgar Davids making his first appearance as player/manager this one was always going to go one way. Davids captained his new side to a 4-0 demolition of Town with Krystian Pearce, Andrew Yiadom, John Oster and Anthony Edgar on the score sheet on another dire outing at Underhill to add to a long line of Barnet nightmares!

Bradford were next up at Sixfields and if Aidy Boothroyd was looking for a reaction after the Barnet debacle he certainly didn’t get it as Nahki Wells got his obligatory goal against us to nick it for the Bantams.

The final game of the month, at home to Port Vale, saw an agonising and season changing incident involved Alex Nicholls steal the headlines. Nicholls raced onto a back pass and rounded City keeper Chris Neal to put the Cobblers in front but just as he put the ball in the net Vale defender John McCombe clattered into him and broke his leg, ending Nicholls’ season in the process. There was a fifteen minute delay as Nicholls was taken away in an ambulance and some unsavoury scenes of Vale fans abusing Nicholls as he lay on the floor didn’t help matters. Nicholls’ team mates went on to win the game 2-0 (McCombe was sent off for the challenge) with his replacement Louis Moult finishing well for the second goal but all thoughts on that day were with the striker who had, until that point, led the club’s scoring charts and contributed a major part to some of the early season successes.

The Cobblers ended the month in the bottom half and needed a big month of November to get back in the running.

League Position (at the end of the month): 14th

Highlight of the month: The 3-0 home win over Exeter City.

Lowlight of the month: Nicholls’ injury and all that came with it.

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