After four ex Cobblers already this season came back to haunt us, you would have put your mortgage on Bayo Akinfenwa adding to that list when he came back to town on Saturday. It was as dead cert a bet to make before the game and was perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the season that he actually had a pretty quiet game.
Instead of the big man stealing the glory, it was one of his former team mates who made all the headlines with Alex Nicholls scoring his first goal at Sixfields in just over two years since the injury that threatened to end his career.
It was a game, against a decent Wimbledon side, that needed that extra spark and moment to make it stand out from the rest and Nicholls’ goal – a well taken finish after a rebound from the goalkeeper – provided just the tonic to end a dreadful run of results through late October. You can hear the joy around the ground when the ball flies in and it marks a significant moment in the recovery of a player that many couldn’t see kicking a football again.
The goal and the win, started by Kaid Mohammed’s return to form in front of goal, couldn’t have come at a better time. With two cup games coming up in the coming week and a bit it would have been a desperately long wait had we extended our losing run even further. Now we can head into the double header against League One’s Rochdale and Leyton Orient with a little bit if steam behind us.
Rochdale are up first and it has the makings of a decent, but difficult, tie. They’re on fire at the moment and smashed promotion hopefuls Preston North End 3-0 on Saturday to record a third straight win with all of those victories seeing them score three goals. Keith Hill has done a fantastic job once again and his side will be confident going into the weekend.
It seems a pretty pivotal month for the Cobblers with everything going on (or not going on) off the pitch making it a nervy place to be at the moment so a good run in either of these cups would be more than welcome.
There were a couple of new faces in against the Dons and both Tom Newey and Stewart Murdoch slotted in pretty well by all accounts with both available to play in the FA Cup on Saturday. We can’t dip into the loan market any more at this point and that’s probably a good thing – the positives with the double signing at the end of last week is that both are until January and not just the one month stop gaps we’ve been plagued with in the past.
It’s been good to see the loan system not used for a quick fix striker and for Nicholls to get his big chance to shine again in the absence of Marc Richards. Now for a few more to finally wash out those cobwebs once and for all.
A few weeks ago I looked at the top 20 moments in Sixfields history – I would be interested to see where Nicholls’ goal on Saturday would poll given the chance but it’s fair to say we have our first nomination for the second twenty years…