It’s often said that a week is a long time in football – in the Cobblers’ case right now, a few days is all it’s taken to go from relative despair (compared to last season’s antics) to absolute joy and to the setting up of a massive cup tie.
After Saturday’s lacklustre and concerning 0-0 draw with AFC Wimbledon that threw up a whole lot more questions than answers came a cracker of a night on Tuesday night with West Bromwich Albion sent packing as the latest casualty of Town’s early round heroics in the League Cup. Two opposing atmospheres and outlooks you could not have found within the space of four days. Then, to top it all off, Wednesday night’s Third Round draw paired us up with some team called Manchester United who could potentially bring world superstars – and who will definitely bring a managerial superstar – to Sixfields in front of the TV cameras in mid-September.
If you could have summed up Northampton Town in a week, this would be pretty close to being the perfect way to do it. The Wimbledon game was painful in its drabness and sent Town fans home crying out even louder for a front man to lend a hand to Alex Revell, who has hit the ground running (and running) for the most part. I’m convinced that all is not lost with Marc Richards but as a week in, week out striker he’s not the answer for the long term.
Neither is Monday’s signing JJ Hooper – a six month loan from Port Vale – if you base any of your analysis of the striker on his past incarnation in the claret and white. Hooper left Sixfields in 2014 with just three appearances under his belt and after a stint in non-league was signed by Page at Vale Park last year. He caught a few eyes – not least those back here who’d assumed that he’d disappeared into the footballing abyss with Courtney Herbert – with three goals in five games in April but his overall record for Vale of 5 in 31 games doesn’t fill you with massive confidence. Page, though, surely knows what he’s getting and the trust is still fresh from the stands that the Cobblers chief has things under control.
After the Wimbledon draw, then, Tuesday night came even more out of leftfield. Big Zander Diamond showed his worth from set plays and Revell again showed fantastic striker’s instincts to take us to extra time against a side comprising plenty of the team that were beaten by Everton a few days previous. Extra time passed without incident and it was written that we would once again come through against a higher division opponent thanks to a shootout victory that saw Saido Berahino sky his kick into the Northampton night sky and James Morrison seeing his kick saved by Adam Smith. Kenji Gorre, who is slowly showing more confidence, slotted in to seal it and give us some early season excitement with the men from Old Trafford coming to town.
Until then, though, all focus has to be on getting off the mark in the league – four draws is only a good return if we follow it up with points in threes. The trip to struggling Coventry City on Saturday gives us a chance to have a go away from home again against a theoretically bigger club and hopefully that can work in our favour.
Once again, the Cobblers are keeping us well on our toes!