The run is over and the Cobblers have been knocked out of the Christmas Number One battle at the very last second of the race. But while Christmas Day is usually spent in a state of apprehension, this year we’re staring down at the majority of League Two after one the most extraordinary first halves of the season in recent memory so second place is nothing to shake the proverbial stick at.
It was all going to come to an end eventually, of course, but this defeat doesn’t feel like the end of something but more of a marker as to how far we’ve come when a late defeat to one of the favourites for the title becomes a bitter disappointment. After an, at times, pulsating encounter at Sixfields there wouldn’t be a lot of people leaving the stadium arguing that the two teams on show won’t be there or there abouts in the promotion race in May.
Portsmouth came and gave as good as they got and this was a clear step up from the opposition facing us in the last few weeks at Sixfields. The fact that we hung with them for the majority of the game should be good enough to keep the spirits high ahead of three big games over the Christmas and New Year calendar which will set the tone for the next phase of the season.
Obviously there are still things to work on and another centre back in the January sales with a bit of pace and a calm head – Shaun Brisley’s return from down the road perhaps – would be welcome but you can’t argue with the attacking flair that Chris Wilder’s men are playing with. It’s arguably the most exciting Cobblers sides in terms of attacking intent, attitude and determination that I’ve ever seen. Previous promotions from League Two in 1997, 2000 and 2006 have come about more from graft than guile apart from the odd flashes of individual genius from the likes of Martin Smith, Marco Gabbiadini and, erm, Dean Peer.
This squad has something special and they must be kept together and even added to by a couple in January – it’s not only the best chance we’ve had of promotion in years but the best chance of going up with a squad capable of competing in League One should they all stay together. Injuries or suspensions could, at the moment, cause a few problems, but Kelvin Thomas has already hinted that some back up may be drafted in during the transfer window.
All in all, we can sit comfortably on Christmas Day 2015 knowing that the club is back in safe hands and the team are in a phenomenal position.
So here’s wishing you all a peaceful and Happy Christmas. Thank you for continuing to read – this blog will be 10 years old in June so let’s hope we’re celebrating the same way we were when I started it…with promotion.