Still entrenched in bottom two after shaky few days…

Northampton Town 2-2 Dagenham and Redbridge

Rochdale 3-2 Northampton Town

It never rains, it pours. As storms sweep across the country this evening, the Cobblers are on their way home from a long journey north licking the wounds of a morale deflating late reversal that saw Rochdale score twice to deny us first a draw and then anything at all. At the moment it’s hard to find the words to describe what is going on as week after week goes by and the small scraps of positivity are balanced out by some silly decisions, poor tactics and individual silly moments.

Last season Town had a big problem away from home in that as soon as we conceded one goal we would go on to let in another moments later and that trend is worryingly coming back into play this time around in confidence shattering regularity. First came Oxford ten days ago and then at the weekend we were in good fettle and a goal up against Dagenham thanks to new boy Luke Norris scrambling the ball in before the Daggers turned the game around with two goals within the blink of an eye of one another.

To our credit we came back and claimed a favourable draw in that one and headed to Rochdale this evening looking to keep up the more positive aspects of recent performances. Norris, who joined from Brentford for a month last week, made it two in two games when he fired in from long range after just twenty six seconds and there was something to cling on to.

Ian Henderson, never anywhere near a high scorer in his time with us, inevitably was the man to bring the game level but having overseen that panic we were back in front when another loanee scored his second goal for the club with Stuart Dallas shooting low into the corner of the net.

So 2-1 up at half-time away from home and an unfamiliar position this season, Wimbledon aside, for the Cobblers. Unfortunately by the end of the game we were looking at all too familiar territory despite coming so, so close to bagging all three points.

The game seemed to turn on Norris being replaced as the lone striker by young Ivan Toney and while it’s completely unfair to blame Toney himself it appeared to take the steam out of Norris’ hold up play with the striker doing well in the ‘defending from the front’ role. Rochdale started to press and press and we’ve been here so many times before that it almost felt like we were waiting for the equaliser, which duly came when Michael Rose curled in a free kick that beat Matt Duke all ends up. There were questions about the wall and whether Duke had it positioned correctly and it’s details like this that are crucial to the current predicament.

Having lost the lead there was only one thing that could have made the night worse and, of course, that arrived when George Donnelly beat Duke in stoppage time. That last five minutes undid a lot of good work for the previous eighty five and will do massive damage to an already fragile Cobblers confidence, players and fans alike.

It’s three times in three games that we’ve let in goals one directly after another and it needs to be addressed. It seems that at the moment the minute we think the defence is sorted we can’t score and the minute the goals return the defence starts shipping goals again! It’s something that happens only when you’re in the thick of a dog fight at the wrong end of the table.

Rochdale flew to the top of League Two thanks to this result and we look up with envy whilst looking over at shoulder at Accrington who, with their first win of the season, closed the gap to two points to make us nervy about hitting rock bottom once more.

It really isn’t making for good reading at the moment and thirteen games in is probably enough to say that we’re in a relegation battle this season. At best, it looks like we’ll be fighting for scraps in mid-table and the mistakes that still stem back to the summer transfer activity, in my opinion, are going to end up costing us a second shot at promotion under Boothroyd.

It won’t get any better by simply replacing the manager because it simply means someone else comes in, gets his own ideas and still the best we can realistically hope for is top half. Boothroyd has perhaps the biggest few months in his career coming up and we are the ship that he’s steering. Short term loans won’t get him out of trouble by themselves though and results have to be ground out by whatever means necessary as the tough winter starts to kick in.

Cheltenham Town come to Sixfields on Saturday to give us an untimely reminder of happier times when we were celebrating a trip to Wembley at their expense back in May. How times can change so quickly…

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