It’s a rare feeling for a Cobblers fans is this – three points on the board on the opening weekend have eluded us for many a year. Indeed the last time we won on the first day (a 4-2 victory over Cheltenham Town in 2008) we thought that Leon Constantine might actually be a worthy signing…heady days! This time around, and after six opening days without even scoring a goal, there was less of a gung ho approach but more of a sense of a team worked performance that firstly broke down a Mansfield side coming to frustrate and then displayed toughness at the end of the game when the Stags were trying to claw back a point.
The debutant most were talking about before the game was John-Joe O’Toole but it was Kaid Mohammed, another making his first official appearance for Town, who claimed the headlines with a powered header at the back post for the only goal of the game. O’Toole was brought off in the second half and that move ended up giving Chris Wilder a welcome selection headache for the games to come.
That was because of another fine performance from Ivan Toney who brought more cohesion with Marc Richards to the front line and we could easily have doubled the lead on more than one occasion after the youngster came on. At home, a dual attack is likely to be better received and it’ll be interesting to see how Wilder plays it in the coming months at Sixfields. Away from home O’Toole should bring plenty to the table but it’ll be hard for the boss to ignore Toney if he continues to show as much guile and positive energy that he showed again on Saturday.
It was a general consensus that we’ll face a lot tougher tests than Mansfield this season but anything garnered from the first game of the season is a real positive. Just to not be playing catch up in the early weeks would be a huge improvement on recent seasons and having a genuinely coherent squad with substitutes coming on that could easily have started a game shows a depth that’s not been seen at this stage of a season for quite some time.
There’s of course work to be done and we’ll have a hugely tough examination at Molineux on Tuesday evening in the League Cup to really test the mettle before another tester at York in the League on Saturday but for once we’re saying that the early signs are good.
Just to be back in football mode is fantastic to be fair – until that first dodgy league defeat comes around let’s enjoy seeing our name at the right end of the ‘league table’ for a while!