It’s not been the barnstorming start that we wanted in our return to League Two – with two games down the Cobblers have collected just a solitary point – but considering the way in which the fixtures have fallen Dean Austin should still have plenty to be encouraged by in these early knockings of the campaign.
The opening day saw Lincoln come and do a job on us and welcomed us back to League Two by producing an away performance that Danny Cowley would have been delighted with. The Imps came to Sixfields to be physical and outmuscle Town with their height and power key in their victory. The Cobblers started brightly and could well have had an early lead but Shaun McWilliams’ withdrawal through injury seemed to shake our flow and broke up a midfield trio involving himself, John-Joe O’Toole and Matt Crooks that had the right balance to take control of the centre of the park.
It was perhaps the wrong move from Austin to replace McWilliams not with the strength of Sam Foley but with the more technical Jack Bridge but we still created enough to win the game, let alone claw back a draw. We ended up with neither thanks to a sucker punch from Matt Green who got on the end of a cross from the right to nod in the only goal of the game. The Cobblers could have had three or four thanks to some clear opportunities going begging for Dan Powell, Sam Hoskins and Andy Williams but the positive news from the first game was that chances were being created and forwards were breaking through a tough Lincoln backline who will keep out plenty of League Two sides this season.
It all felt like a little bit of a false start but it wasn’t an awful performance by any means against one of the favourites for promotion. The absence of Junior Morias, still not up to speed thanks to a slight knock, didn’t help and the striker was again missing for Saturday’s long trek up to Carlisle.
Transfer deadline day came and went and it was a case of no news is good news as the clock ticked on with no departures. There were a few nibbles of a rumour about Crooks leaving but nothing materialised and we go with what we have pending any loan moves in the next couple of weeks.
Ironically, two of those at the top of the rumoured departures list, Crooks and Kevin van Veen, both found the net at Brunton Park in what should go down as a good point taken from Cumbria on Saturday as long as we can build on it next Saturday back at Sixfields.
Both goals were well taken by the Town men with van Veen nodding in to level following Jamie Devitt’s opener for the Cumbrians and Crooks getting on the end of a good move and pass from Sam Hoskins. It was a case of lacking concentration from the off though as United hit back to grab a point straight away thanks to former Cobblers loanee Hallam Hope.
With the McWIlliams injury news not as bad as first thought and the likes of Morias and Shay Facey to come in there’s reason to think that Town have plenty still in the locker ahead of a busy few weeks of league and cup action. Victory on Saturday at home to Cambridge would be very welcome!