Cobblers fall to rejuvenated Gulls

Chappell...brace at Sixfields

Chappell…brace at Sixfields

Northampton Town 1-2 Torquay United

League Two

Saturday, August 24th 2013

The big turning point at the end of last season in terms of automatic promotion hopes came when the Cobblers’ long winning run at Sixfields came to an end in a surprise defeat by York City. Though Saturday’s reverse against Torquay United won’t have as much impact in the short term it still mirrors that period of time with Town clinging on to home form when away results fell badly. When the home front fell there was nothing to hold us up and the fear is that now we can’t event rely on the ‘fortress’ we really could be in trouble.

The saving grace is that we are in the usual Cobblers early season slump period and many a time have we seen resurgence up the league after shaky starts. This defeat leaves us licking our wounds and asking more questions than need to be asked as the transfer window nears its closing time. We are also reminded that there are plenty of teams in League Two who can spring a surprise or two, compete above their perceived level and send messages that it’s not all about who spends the most.

Nobody in this division has any divine right to promotion. Seven teams will end the league season happy before the playoffs begin. That means seventeen will end the season with some form of disappointment, be it missing out on the playoffs, subdued in mid-table or relegated. We need to realise that it’s not just our own misgivings that have us third from bottom in the early goings but that other teams are just more organised and better drilled than we are, something that Torquay showed here.

It shouldn’t have got to the point where we were looking at a third defeat in four league games and all looked to be on track when Jacob Blyth headed in powerfully from a good ball in from Danny Emerton on the right. 1-0 up at the break and once again it looked like the balance was shifting back to the trusted ‘win at home, lose away’ sequence.

But the Gulls had other ideas and came out a changed side, showing tremendous spirit to not just lie down and accept a fate that was expected by the majority of the home crowd, or so I would wager. The visitors grew more and more into the game and grabbed their reward in a two goal burst with eighteen and twelve minutes to play.

Jordan Chappell was the architect from Torquay’s side but the fact that we were in possession of the ball right before both of his goals will irk Aidy Boothroyd. Chappell first raced on to a break away involving former Cobblers loan man Karl Hawley to finish well past Matt Duke and then got on the end of Callum Ball’s pass to cut inside and skilfully curve the ball into the corner of the net to stun three sides of Sixfields.

There seemed to be some panic on Boothroyd’s side of things just after the first goal when former Gull Ian Morris was replaced by the returning Clive Platt. Morris had appeared to give balance to the midfield but Platt’s introduction meant that we were going all out for the winner and ended up being caught out. Tactically it’s one that Boothroyd will need to learn from.

There was to be no real late drama and so it was that the long journey back to Devon was made so much more bearable for the hardy souls in the Torquay end. They came, saw and turned a lost cause into a winning one and fair play to them for that.

If Boothroyd and visiting boss Alan Knill had a glass of wine after the game then maybe he could pick up a few pointers in that particular art with the next game on the road again at a perennial haunt of ours, the Memorial Stadium.

It’s another long week’s wait to try and put it right but put it right we must as the first month of the season comes to an end.

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