A week ago today we confirmed league status after months and months of struggle and nightmares about relegation. The Cobblers avoided the worst right at the death but there were plenty of big moments through the season that helped us on the way to what was the closest escape since that day at Gay Meadow in 1993.
Here’s five of the best of the 2013/14 season – five moments and games that made it somewhat worthwhile by the time the final whistle was blown against Oxford
Cobblers 1-0 Fleetwood Town (16.11.13)
This is predictably the only “Boothroyd era” game to make the list from this season’s best moments. It was far from a spectacle as the Cobblers fought to make up a worry gap that was already opening up between ourselves and the rest of the league. Going into the game bottom of the table, we had at least been boosted a week earlier by a 2-1 FA Cup win at non-league Bishop’s Stortford but were up against a Fleetwood side who sat top of the pile going into the game. It was set for a drab 0-0 until Luke Norris scored the most dramatic of winners with a stoppage time free kick. It looked like being a turning point for the club and for Boothroyd but the beleaguered Town boss would win just once more before his sacking in December.
Newport 1-2 Cobblers (04.01.14)
Managerless and still bottom of the table, the opening game of 2014 saw Town travel to Newport County as Andy King continued to take charge of the troops on a temporary basis. Loan strikers Hallam Hope and Antonio German came straight into the side and it was Hope that put us in front before Harry Worley levelled things up before the break. But Darren Carter began his road to a personal renaissance with a well taken goal from distance to breath fresh life into the season and to help us to what was up until then a rare away victory.
Torquay 1-2 Cobblers (11.02.14)
Chris Wilder had been in the job for just a couple of weeks at this point but just one point in his first two games meant that this trip to Torquay was pivotal. The Gulls were six points clear of the Cobblers going into the Tuesday evening encounter but that was halved when Emile Sinclair produced his most memorable contribution to his team’s cause by scoring twice in the opening fifteen minutes. Krystian Pearce made it 2-1 on the stroke of half-time but Town held on for a huge three points.
Exeter 0-1 Cobblers (11.03.14)
Despite a mini resurgence under Wilder, time was running out by the time we made the trip to fellow strugglers Exeter in mid-March. It was a tight and tense contest but one that was won when Chris Hackett produced a cross for Ian Morris to volley into the ground and over home keeper Artur Krysiak. It took us to within three points of the Grecians with a game in hand and gave us huge belief that the escape was on.
Dagenham and Redbridge 0-3 Cobblers (26.04.14)
After the victory at St. James’ Park came a run of three draws and two defeats from the next five games and we looked dead and buried, particularly after a 3-0 home defeat to Bury. But wins at Accrington and at home to Burton suddenly put us back in with a shout and a point at Wycombe kept the gap closed to simply goal difference. Both Town and the Chairboys lost on Bank Holiday Monday to set up a nerve jangling finish to the season. The trip to Dagenham will live long in the memory of all who were there as the Cobblers produced a stunning first half display. Ivan Toney, introduced from the start, took just eight minutes to make his mark by heading in the opening goal before Ian Morris lobbed in number two. Toney’s overhead kick to make it three was one of those moments that will be replayed for years and a second half of ensuring the lead stayed intact meant that we were finally out of the bottom two for the first time since September.
Oh, go on then, let’s enjoy this again too…