No room for blame in relegation battle…

Carter...at the double but Cobblers held late on

Carter…at the double but Cobblers held late on

Northampton Town 2-2 AFC Wimbledon

League Two

Tuesday, March 25th 2014

A lot of the time when I write these blogs after games I like to wait for at least a few hours or a day to share my thoughts with a bit of time to let the adrenaline die down creating more coherent thoughts than spouting a lot of rubbish would. Some might say I do that anyway of course but looking back on last night’s draw with Wimbledon is a prime example where emotions would have got the better of me had I began typing at 10pm last night.

That old friend of ours the ‘fine line’ came back into play again as the Dons struck in the sixth minute of injury time to nick a point and, more importantly, take two away from the Cobblers who were, up until that point, level with Portsmouth in 22nd. It was gut wrenching, heart breaking and just gave you that sinking feeling. We could have been celebrating a huge win that would have set up Saturday’s home game with Bury to be the one where even a point may have been enough to take us out of the bottom two but the visitors scored in the period of time mostly added on from their time wasting whilst the game was held at 1-1.

The game itself was bitty with Wimbledon taking a deserved lead after fifteen minutes- George Francomb punishing some hesitant defending to fire his side in front against a Cobblers side who again hadn’t got started. Leon McSweeney then rattled his own cross bar and we were on the ropes, in need of an intervention.

Fortunately we got just that with another double whammy of red card and penalty as Jack Midson was given his marching orders for a deliberate hand ball and the game was back in our hands with Darren Carter emphatically slamming the ball home from the spot. With an hour to play with ten men this was a massive chance.

Yet it took a triple change fifteen minutes into the second half to really get us going as Cristian Lopez, Ian Morris and new signing Evan Horwood replaced Alan Connell, Brennan Dickenson and Gregor Roberton. Emile Sinclair threatened with a header while at the other end Matt Duke kept out Michael Collins.

But Town were in front with twelve minutes to go with Carter continuing his renaissance with a long range effort that was deflected in – all of a sudden we were within a goal of getting out of the drop zone on the night with Portsmouth 3-0 down at Rochdale. Perhaps it was being greedy to ask for a third but anything but what actually happened would have been great in hindsight.

Wimbledon came forward and you could feel the nerves reverberating around not just Sixfields but every household and work place in the country with a Cobblers fan in it. It was almost inevitable…Sammy Moore put it in from close range deep, deep into time added on and two monumental points were taken away from us. There was time for even more drama with Sinclair hitting the post but the Dons goal came too late for any sustained reply from Town.

It’s these moments that quickly change many of our outlooks – suddenly from a mode of relief and celebration came outbursts on social media that it’s all over again. Most of all there was blame once again being thrown around – at Aidy Boothroyd, David Cardoza and even Chris Wilder. With seven games to play and with the gap cut to two points, this is not the answer.

I do get it – we, as supporters, have a right to say whatever we want and a freedom to give our own opinions (hence this blog and many other good ones) but constantly turning on Facebook and Twitter and seeing people so violently attacking our football club just doesn’t do it for me. It deeply worries me when I see so many against us in the build-up and aftermath of games – fair enough if we’re mid table and there’s holes to debate but we’re in a relegation battle and the reality is that unless we support the people running, managing and playing for our football club then we’ll be playing in the Skrill Premier next season.

I constantly go back to Shrewsbury away in 1993 as a point of reference in relegation fights and there are reasons for that. I wasn’t there but just watching the highlights shows the togetherness and unity between players and fans and whilst there were plenty of other factors that made that happen there’s no point in comparing the circumstances and saying that it can’t and won’t be recreated.

The big problem is that we’ve become attached to a sense that we shouldn’t be in this position because of the amount of money that’s going into the club – why shouldn’t we? It takes a hell of a lot more than splashing some cash to win promotion, especially from League Two. Look at Burnley, Leyton Orient, York City – all teams apparently ‘punching above their weight’ in their respective divisions. The wonderful thing about football is that money doesn’t win the day every time and as long and storied a history as we have it means nothing when you’re in the relegation zone or just outside in Pompey’s case.

Moaning and groaning about the situation isn’t going to help come August if we’re kicking off in non-league football. We want our players to do their bit and we pay our money to watch them try to do that but we, as supporters, need to get back to basics and get behind them. An online/pub negative atmosphere can very easily be transferred to the stands and we can be beaten as soon as we go a goal behind.

We could have been long gone by now and have actually closed the gap well in recent weeks…it’s not been anywhere near as quick as we’d hoped but to be within two points of safety is not exactly a nightmare scenario. Just ask Torquay United if they would like a swap right now.

What I’m trying to promote, in a very roundabout way, is that nothing comes for free in football – if we give as much support as we can then we can say we’ve done our bit. If we carry on looking for scapegoats to direct anger at then we’ll distract ourselves from the real issue that Northampton Town’s future is on the line right now.

We’re not beaten yet – keep fighting for your club.

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