Off the bottom!

Hackett...match winner

Hackett…match winner

Northampton Town 2-1 Southend United

League Two

Tuesday, February 25th 2014

It’s not the giant leap towards safety we would have hoped for based on some of the other results in League Two last night but the Cobblers’ third win in four games means that we’ve taken the first small step in getting out of the bottom two – we’re off the bottom and building momentum fast. The fact that we saw off a highly professional, competitive and dangerous Southend United side at Sixfields last night makes the three points that bit more impressive and, though the gap between ourselves and safety remains at five points, the psychological meaning of back to back wins will go a long way.

This one, following up Saturday’s 2-0 success over Hartlepool United, was born out of some tactical changes from the increasingly effective Chris Wilder and his management team that are starting to really turn things around. Mathias Doumbe had headed in his second in as many games from another Chris Hackett assist before Southend quickly equalised through Michael Timlin dubiously racing past the offside trap to beat Matt Duke and Southend could easily have gone on to lead before half time. Zander Diamonds’ block on Barry Corr and Corr’s subsequent header wide from a corner meant that Wilder would have been happy to go in at 1-1 at half time.

But shortly after the restart and he started to tinker with Alan Connell and Ian Morris replacing John Marquis and Brennan Dickenson. Connell had an almost immediate impact with his pass releasing Emile Sinclair who in turn played in Hackett for his first goal of the season. The Cobblers had the lead again and hanging on was absolutely vital with the likes of Bury, Portsmouth and Wycombe all winning their games.

Hackett had one chalked off a few minutes after his first goal before an almighty scare for Town as Anthony Straker was fouled seemingly in the area by Leon McSweeney but only a free kick was given by referee Mr Boyeson. The decision, and Southend substitute Freddy Eastwood’s blast of the free kick into the wall, meant that we could breathe again and hold out we did for a first back to back winning sequence of the season.

Massive relief and celebration at the final whistle, then, with Bristol Rovers coming up on Saturday at Sixfields. While results were poor elsewhere last night, the good thing about playing Rovers is that they’re still in touching distance of us and a third straight victory for the Cobblers would drag the Gas right back into trouble and to within three points no matter what else happens to the sides in between us Mansfield, Wycombe and Accrington.

The fact that tricky away games at Scunthorpe and Exeter follow this Saturday’s latest bout of Sixfields encounters makes it crucial that we continue the upwards curve against John Ward’s side. The confidence, organisation and integration of new players seems to be really coming together now and we now have to hope and pray that it continues for the final fourteen games of the campaign.

Alan Connell is someone who is surely pushing for a starting role against Rovers – whenever he’s played he seems to create chances and is a link between the midfield and strikers that we’ve lacked all season. The good thing about his starts from the bench is that he’ll be going all out to keep his place when he does start again. The likes of Chris Hackett and even Darren Carter are showing signs of real improvement as well and we actually look dangerous when we come forward. At the other end, Matt Duke appears to be over his spate of flappy fever while Zander Diamonds’ arrival has be fantastic.

We certainly can’t afford to take our foot off the gas but if we are going down, we’re at least going down fighting!

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