Saturday, April 12th 2014
There were periods of shambolic football. There was sudden hope and light at the end of the tunnel. There was more disappointment. There was the sense that all was lost. And then, suddenly, there was parity and a level playing field after months of torture. The Cobblers are level on points – finally – with the team in 22nd place in League Two and it just so happens that the team occupying that spot, Wycombe Wanderers, are the next opposition.
The Chairboys’ defeat at Newport County brought them to within touching distance of the Cobblers but it was events at Sixfields that created the most buzz and reinvigorated a season that a couple of weeks ago looked all but over. Town scrapped and fought their way to a single goal victory over Burton Albion, a side chasing automatic promotion, and ended up with the prize we’ve been craving since Chris Wilder took over – it’s now all in our own hands.
John Marquis was the man to produce the moment that would edge a tight contest as his shot was fumbled into the net by Burton keeper Robert Lainton with just a couple of minutes left until the break. It was the conclusion of a half that had seen the Cobblers adjust well to a change of shape to accommodate the big absences of Darren Carter and Zander Diamond. There were few chances until the goal but Albion could have been level straight away had Gregor Robertson not denied Shane Cansdell-Sheriff brilliantly in front of goal.
The second half was always going to be a tense, nervous one for the Cobblers but there never seemed huge danger from the visitors with Billy Kee’s cross-shot tipped onto the bar by Matt Duke proving to be Albion’s best effort. The atmosphere temporarily shifted to welcome back Kelvin Langmead from an eleven month absence and he slotted into defence for the last fifteen minutes or so after coming off the bench. Langmead’s recovery has been long and arduous but he may yet have a crucial role to play as we head into four incredible games that will decide our fate.
Saturday was hopefully just the start and it was so, so important to get the supporters, some of whom had given up after the Bury defeat, back into a state of believing once again. The atmosphere was back, the players responded and three points were garnered. Job done, and now four remain – win them all and we’ll be playing League Two football again next season.
That, of course, is unlikely and we know our beloved club well enough to know that during these last three weeks there’s more twists to come. We have, though, put ourselves in the pack and can drag not only Wycombe but plenty of others into big trouble if we win and bring ourselves out of the bottom two on Friday afternoon.
Wycombe will be just as up for it as us, though, so we need to take as many there as possible to create an atmosphere like we know we can do on our travels. We’ve had some unbelievable away days in recent years and if this one ends up with the Cobblers out of the drop zone then it will surely go down on that list of watershed moments.
Our club are dangling that carrot of hope in front of us once again…now is the time to bite!