What more can be said at the moment about the Cobblers and their extraordinary transformation from relegation threatened in late December to the side that’s now the highest scorers in the league, comfortable in mid-table and well and truly firing on all cylinders. After a resounding home win over Newport County came a showcase of how far we’ve come in just one month as a Town side playing for over fifty minutes with ten men produced a staggering 5-1 away win at Accrington Stanley.
It was without doubt the most rounded, confident and dominating win of the season so far and it was made all that bit more impressive by the fact that Ryan Cresswell was given his marching orders in the first half with the Cobblers starting to lose grip on what was a 2-0 lead, halved by the penalty that was converted via a rebound as a result of the dismissal.
I was all set for a backs to the walls performance from there on in and Stanley did make us work for a short period after the break but Town dug in and got a tremendous reward thanks to three more goals, partly handed to us on a plate but partly brilliantly crafted. It was a stunning effort from all involved and means that we’ve gone from being two points from the bottom two on December 28th (after a 2-1 defeat at Tranmere Rovers) to being just seven away from the playoffs by January 31st.
Once again, as has been the case through this whole run, Town relied on bottle at the back, battling midfield displays and goals from a number of different positions and situations. Rico is leading the way and could become the first Cobbler to net the League Two golden boot in years if he carries on this way. Two more at the Crown Ground were added to by the outstanding Lawson D’Ath who also scored twice, and Ricky Holmes.
D’Ath and Holmes have been revelations since cementing their first team places this month and the news that Holmes has signed a permanent deal is a huge bit of business. I can’t remember one game when D’Ath has underperformed and he won’t be with us for long if he carries on the eye catching form he’s currently on.
Everything is really looking up and though we know all too well that things can go to pot as soon as you start to feel that way in football but as we head into deadline day there’s not a lot I can think of that needs changing. Billy Bodin is a decent addition as a squad player who can play in a couple of positions but unless there’s any big injuries – the lack of which also adds to the momentum at the moment – I don’t see a lot changing from a starting eleven that’s not been changed in five games.
It’s still early enough for us to get genuinely interested in the playoffs though it will take an effort just as high as this month’s in the next few weeks for us to register more than just a dream like finale to a season that looked like it was going to the dogs. I have to admit (and can’t hide from it because my words are etched onto this blog!) that I was one of those questioning Chris Wilder a month ago but thankfully he’s proved a lot of people wrong with that huge winter clearance and signings that added heart and desire to a flagging squad.
By the time the home game with Morecambe comes around next week, Wilder may even have the Manager of the Month award threatening to curse him and his rejuvenated players. A month is a long, long time in football!