Dagenham and Redbridge 0-3 Northampton Town
Saturday, April 26th 2014
We came, we saw, we conquered. In one of those games that we’re not likely to forget for years to come the Cobblers produced a first half that saw a claret vacuum pull in three incredible goals and a second that was based on holding on to a precious three points that took us out of the bottom two for the first time since September. It’s not quite on the level of Pat Gavin’s exploits at Shrewsbury 21 years ago but the significance and sheer disbelief about the way we won it gave a whole new generation of Cobblers fans a hero and a match to indelibly etch into their minds.
That hero was eighteen year old Ivan Toney who was thrown in to start in place of the plodding and simply not good enough Emile Sinclair. A gamble it most definitely was but a home grown talent in place of a man completely out of form made logical sense and Toney grabbed the opportunity with both hands by netting a brace including a stunning overhead kick that would later be named as ‘goal of the day’ on Sky Sports.
To write this performance entirely in the name of Toney, however, is a disservice to a Cobblers side who were magnificent in the first half and were everything we needed them to be in a relegation battle – first to every second ball, coherent in the middle of the park, stubborn at the back and creating chances for the new look strike force of Toney and Marquis.
The crucial difference from the last couple of weeks was that Town, and particularly Toney, found where the goal was and sent the travelling army of almost 1,300 Cobblers fans into hysteria. Toney didn’t take long to get going with his first ever senior goal as he got on the end of a superb cross from the left from Ian Morris to head home in front of that gathering of our delirious gathering – many of whom took over a Weatherspoon’s pub at Liverpool Street in the hours leading up to the game…
Just as we were getting our collective breaths back, it was 2-0 as the ball broke to Morris just outside the area and his volley flew beautifully into the corner of Jordan Seabright’s goal. After weeks of non-threatening behaviour in front of goal this was an incredible scene – we were quite simply blowing the home side away and wanted it so much more than a team who seemed in equal parts shell shocked and already on their holidays.
Former Cobblers loan striker Luke Norris was doing his best to bring about a recovery from his new side but his header, tipped over by Matt Duke, was the best they could create and it was the Cobblers who would go into the break with another goal to reignite the belief in the away end. And what a moment this was – a corner was swung in, Seabright punched the ball out and Toney took a touch before scoring with an overhead kick that took the roof off an already rocking half of the stadium.
As we lauded the “one of our own” that had created the bedlam on the terraces the teams ran off for half time and it was a telling indication of Chris Wilder’s outlook that as Toney started to soak it in by applauding back the Cobblers manager near enough shoved the youngster down the tunnel – the job was not done yet and there was still a professional job to do.
And done it was. There was no big fight back from the home side who were still trying to get their heads around that first half. Medy Elito forced Duke into a save before Chris Hackett’s free kick forced Seabright into a good stop but the second forty five minutes was all about holding firm and keeping the points safely in the bag.
Norris would end up leaving the game early and earned a standing ovation from the Cobblers support as he was stretchered off – his goals in the first half of this season briefly gave hope to Aidy Boothroyd’s reign and there was an appreciation for that as the striker departed. Fortunately it doesn’t seem like the ankle injury is as bad as first feared and I’m sure both sets of fans equally wish him the best.
As for the final stages of the game, the minutes ticked on and it was party time as it was clear that the Daggers weren’t mounting a comeback. The final whistle saw a rapturous reception for the Town players and with Wycombe losing out in the crunch battle with Bristol Rovers it means that we simply need to match the Chairboys’ result next weekend (they go to relegated Torquay) to stay in League Two.
That’s been the ultimate aim since Chris Wilder took over and after being seven points from safety at one point it’s testament to his work that we’re now three clear going into the final game. There’s obviously still a good chance of many more twists to come but thankfully we know exactly what we need to do against Wilder’s old team.
It’s tantalisingly poised for Saturday and we know that if Wycombe don’t win then it won’t matter what we do but Wilder is experienced enough to concentrate on his own team and his own job. Should we get the point to take us to safety then Wilder’s defection to Sixfields in January will be somewhat justified. Oxford are on a shocking run that’s ended any chance of them reaching the playoffs and the U’s fans who were saying a few months ago that they would be promoted and send us down on the same day will come knowing that only the second part of that plan can now be achieved.
If we (and I mean the players and the fans) show anything like the effort displayed at Victoria Road then there should be no question about our league survival. That doesn’t mean that Saturday won’t be an incredibly nervous, frantic and emotional day.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy this picture for a little longer …