2013 has seen Cobblers fans being taken well and truly through the mire away from home with some dire performances, quick collapses and days when the players didn’t seem to even get on the team coach in the first place. Almost as much as home form kept the Cobblers in the hunt for the playoffs last season, the form on the road was a major force behind Aidy Boothroyd’s sacking just before Christmas.
Boothroyd’s loss was Andy King’s gain and there could surely be no more daunting task in English football than to turn around the fortunes of the league’s bottom club with dwindling resources that were damaged a whole lot more over the festive period.
A run of the mill defeat at Burton on Boxing Day left King’s hopes of pushing himself into the chairman’s thinking in limbo but, ironically, he led the Cobblers to a performance on Sunday afternoon off the back of some extraordinary injury problems and in particular in the strikers’ department. After Stuart Dallas was recalled by Brentford, Izale McLeod and Roy O’Donovan joined Clive Platt on the treatment table leaving Luke Norris as the sole senior forward going into the game at Fratton Park.
Norris was then taken off in the first half and David Moyo was thrown into the same deep end as Andy King found himself in as the nineteen year old, on loan with Northern Premier League side Stamford until only a few days ago, led the Cobblers line. It certainly wasn’t looking good and it would need a lion hearted performance if we were to take anything back from the south coast.
And as the home support grew restless, Town produced exactly what was required and so nearly got so much more. Matty Harriott, who along with Ben Tozer was another to be thrown straight back in after loan spells were cut short, forced Pompey keeper Trevor Carson into a save mid-way through the second half and Moyo headed over as the Cobblers pressed for an unlikely winner.
But a point was a valuable addition to the season’s tally and we had to soak up a bit of pressure before claiming it which meant really digging in – something that we’re going to have to do immediately whoever the playing personnel are that run out in the claret shirts for the second half of this season.
Nineteen points from the first twenty three games is nothing short of a disaster but this is where the players need to realise that they were part of the problem, roll their sleeves up and fight for whichever manager occupies their dug out. The supporters will stick by them and they should have no doubt about that if they even glanced momentarily at the away end at Fratton Park. 728 was the official count of Cobblers fans and – on a cold late December afternoon with their team bottom of the Football League and shocking on the road – that is outstanding.
We’ll need every bit of help we can get in the coming weeks and it’s still a mystery as to whether King will even be considered for the top job but he’ll get at least one more shot at it against top club Chesterfield on New Year’s Day, maybe even at Newport in six days’ time as well. After that come two huge six pointers against York City and Torquay United so whoever wins the race to lead us into 2014 and beyond is in for a big first few weeks in charge.
Getting the players to believe in themselves is the first job, though, and on the showing of Sunday afternoon Andy King can add that particular positive attribute to his C.V. should he join the queue outside Mr Cardoza’s office.
A Happy New Year to you all!