Another game, another win, another milestone passed. Saturday afternoon saw the Cobblers move to TEN points clear of closest challengers Plymouth Argyle and this dream season is showing absolutely no sign of letting up. Wycombe, and in particular Gareth Ainsworth, would have come into the game licking their lips at the prospect of spoiling our best run of wins since the sixties and though they came mightily close to coming away with something there was no stopping a Town side who are sparring with the very best.
Before the trio of games with Orient, Oxford and Wycombe I said I’d take a five point haul – the fact we’ve got nine adds even more disbelief to a season that’s likely to be spoken of for years and years in the future.
Wycombe were set up to both frustrate and to catch us out at the back through dangerous set pieces but Town stepped up to the challenge once more.
The big news before the game was that of Marc Richard’s Achilles injury and seeing the top scorer limping around the West Stand in an air boot during the game wasn’t a promising sight. Such is the strength of the Cobblers squad, though, that James Collins moving forwards with Nicky Adams coming into one of the three attacking midfield positions didn’t make us look too much more depleted.
The first half will be mainly remembered for one of the more blatant penalty shouts being turned down as the impressive Lee Martin was clipped on the six yard line by a Wanderers defender. Referee Graham Salisbury blew up but stunned the entire ground by pointing the opposite way and booking the Town man for a dive. Why he would have even contemplate going down in that position is beyond me and it was a massive error from the man in black that could have been hugely costly.
There were chances at both ends after that with a Wycombe cross flashing past the Cobblers six yard box and John-Joe O’Toole being denied from close range at the other end but it was all square at the break.
The second half began with a flurry of Cobblers chances and the pace was well and truly stepped up. The visitors looked more and more like a team hoping to cling on to a point and when Collins missed a couple of good chances and Ricky Holmes flashed a shot over it looked like they may just get it.
But just after the hour, Holmes combined well with Martin on the right and crossed for Collins to lay off for Danny Rose to finish well into the corner of the net and Sixfields erupted at the prospect of that club record ninth successive win.
Anthony Stewart came closest to bagging Wycombe an equaliser as his shot from distance was well palmed away by Adam Smith but though the nerves were jangling late on there was nothing else to threaten the latest victory being snatched away from us.
It’s the first time I’ve seen us live in a couple of months and it’s a genuine privilege these days. To see a Northampton Town side that’s equal part genuine quality mixed with absolute heart and desire is a joy to see. Every one of those players from ‘Concrete Rod’ and the unfillable Adam Smith at the back to Holmes – without doubt one of the best players I’ve ever seen don the claret –, Martin and Collins, and all around them in the squad and the bench is giving everything they have to the cause of not just gaining promotion but blowing away everyone in their path.
You can feel a change around Sixfields. There’s optimism, there’s appreciation and there’s a togetherness and bond between the fans and players that’s not been apparent for many a year. Simply everything at the club has come together and it gives us all a huge sense of pride once more in our town’s football club.
The records keep falling at our feet and this outrageous season goes on and on…
After the disappointing news on Rico – he’ll be out for at least four weeks – came the resigning of John Marquis this afternoon. Wilder seems to have an emergency fund to cover injuries and this is a fantastic piece of business once again. Rico’s finishing will be missed but I was really impressed with Marquis during his first stint here a couple of years ago so hopefully as long as we keep making the chances his introduction will be seamless.