Mansfield Town 3-0 Northampton Town
Saturday, September 21st 2013
I’m losing the will to write these match thoughts. Another away day comes and goes and, though we did manage the incredible feat of actually keeping eleven men on the pitch for a full ninety minutes this time, the Cobblers slipped to another horrific defeat on the road. The fact that not even our home form is keeping us afloat this time is making this season into a complete disaster with the safety net of Sixfields already broken.
This latest shocker came at Field Mill, a scene of heroes of the past but what is now fast becoming a graveyard. If only we had one or two in the current squad with the fire of a Chris Hargreaves or Ian Sampson or the guile and skill of a Martin Smith, all of which gave us that extraordinary night in 2004. The problem we’re now faced with is that we do have supposed quality in the side but the full potential is just not being reached.
It doesn’t feel anything like the last time we were in this position- second bottom of the entire Football League – yet here we are. There’s no sign of any players with the questionable abilities of a Chris Arthur of Ashley Corker, bless ‘em, with the current crop of players individually appearing fully fitting of a side that you would imagine to challenge for the top seven.
Mansfield were in no mood to care about any of this, though, and took advantage of a shaky Town side to ease into fifth place – an impressive return to League Two so far. The Cobblers had a decent start again and could have taken the lead when Chris Hackett just missed a flick from Clive Platt but were punished when a stunning free kick from Ben Hutchinson flew into the net to open the scoring.
The Stags never looked back and the Cobblers’ demise created another painful Saturday afternoon.
The home side doubled their lead shortly after the opener in scenes similar to those dark away days last season when Sam Clucas finished past Matt Duke to send his team into the break 2-0 up.
Darren Carter twice tested Alan Marriott with free kicks before Ian Morris also had a shot well saved as we briefly flirted with the idea of a comeback. It wasn’t to be though and it was all summed up when debutant defender Mathias Kouo-Doumbe somehow slicing the ball past Duke from full on twenty five yards.
Game over, then, and four out of four away games have ended with no points with the Cobblers languishing in all too familiar territory at the wrong end of League Two. It’s desperate stuff and leaves us with just one side – Accrington Stanley – below us in the league ladder. The home game with Morecambe next weekend becomes arguably the first must win game of the season. That’s not to say that it’s an easy fixture with the Shrimps going very well in eighth place but any home game right now would feel like one that we would have to pick something up from.
It’s another weekend of the stats reading in our favour but the result handsomely not doing. The result is what matters most right now and I would swap all the perceived ‘better football’ for a 1-0 scrap right now. We need it, the players need it and Aidy Boothroyd definitely needs it.
It’s not yet six pointer territory but in terms of confidence and belief these next couple of weeks will play a massive role in what’s to be the final outcome of this flagging season.