On the brink of history…

Rod+McDonald+Northampton+Town+v+Birmingham+lXl6kUPquCRlJust when you thought it couldn’t get any better. ..Just when you thought we couldn’t score any more spectacular goals…Just when you thought we were about to stumble across a bump in the road…the Cobblers come up trumps and better themselves one more time. In a second half performance that perhaps eclipses most in this stunning run of games, the Cobblers produced four goals at Leyton Orient to remain top of the league and make every other team in the league stand up and take notice.

The score line on Saturday will surely have sent waves of nerves through League Two, particularly the promotion rivals that are still keeping up the pace behind us. The gap to watch – that of a huge fifteen points between us and fourth place – is growing by the week and Chris Wilder’s men are on the brink of doing something very, very special.

The victory on Saturday was made more special by some of the goals that lead to it. If an overhead kick from Rod McDonald wasn’t special enough, then this from Ricky Holmes certainly was…

Can this man do any wrong? I think not. That, my friends, is an absolute peach and if it were scored by anyone in the top flight we’d be seeing it for months on end. Take a big, big, bow, son!

Great to see James Collins wrapping things up with a scramble followed by a fine finish – both of which worked to simply put the cherry on the cake of a quite remarkable afternoon in East London. Orient will have been stunned after a first half that appeared pretty even and saw a fair few chances go begging.

Just how much further Town can go will once again be challenged with another big step up at Oxford on Tuesday night. As it would have been on Saturday, a point would be a more than useful gain from one of our closest challengers, but the onus will all be on them in one of the toughest games we have left. There should be absolutely no fear from Wilder’s men.

The manager is probably the calmest man in the place at the moment, on screen and radio at least. Wilder isn’t getting over excited or over hyping the situation which is probably what we all need right now. Inside, though, he must be swelling with pride at the job he and Alan Knill are doing and with the results that are putting him deeper and deeper into Northampton Town folklore.

Pride is most definitely the word at the moment. That, and, disbelief that this is happening to Northampton Town.

That team that you make self-deprecating jokes about…you know the ones: “Well someone has to support ‘em”.

That team you’re mocked about (Cobblers! Wobblers!)

That team that you feel will let you down at some point.

That team.

That team are on the brink of history. Hold on tight.

Top…of…the…league!

Rod+McDonald+Northampton+Town+v+Birmingham+lXl6kUPquCRlIt’s happened. After weeks of three points being packed into our points bag, the Cobblers are top of League Two as this incredible form continues to show no sign of letting up thanks to a comfortable victory over a Morecambe side who showed little resistence after going a goal behind. This is fast becoming one of those seasons that goes down in folklore and with Town now eleven points clear of fourth spot even a horrible run of form at some point in the remaining nineteen games shouldn’t derail us enough to stop a promotion challenge by the time we get to the final furlong.

There really is something special about this group of players and they showed on Saturday a new side to themselves. Having been beaten at MK Dons on Tuesday in a replay that could have set us up against Chelsea, you’d forgive them for letting it play on their minds but instead it was a determined Cobblers side that took to the field looking to clear those cobwebs in the only way they know how.

The fifth win in a row and tenth in eleven league games looked all but wrapped up by half time thanks to James Collins sweeping home a second in two games since joining from Shrewsbury on the half hour mark and John-Joe O’Toole deflecting in Ricky Holmes’ cross shot. Collins was quiet for most of the game but he’s someone that can have an impact with one moment in a game and such was the case here. O’Toole’s renaissance season goes on meanwhile – who would have imagined that he’d be a shoe in for a starting berth week in, week out when he was being offered around back in August.

Another to completely turn around public opinion is Rod McDonald. At the start of the season, McDonald was being shown up for his rawness and inexperience but since coming in to cover injuries has forced Ryan Cresswell out of the side and offered that bit of pace at the back that was missing. His header at the back post sealed this win a few minutes after the break, showing another new threat to his game at the other end.

Morecambe pulled one back when the bustling Kevin Ellison forced the ball to break to Paul Mullin who finished well to put a few doubts in our minds but this Town side knows how to see out games and snuffed out any further chances.

With Plymouth and Bristol Rovers drawing at the Memorial Stadium, the result gives us this beauty of a picture…

TOP

We go into a couple of week’s break now with scheduled opponents Oxford involved in the FA Cup next weekend but the pressure is on Plymouth going into their game at home to Wycombe which will mean they will have played two games more than us by the time we host York in two weeks’ time.

That particular race for top spot is a huge bonus with the gap on fourth place the one to watch in the coming weeks. It really is mind blowing after the genuine thought that we were going to our last games watching the Cobblers in their current form back in November. Once again, as superlatives run out, we march on and on and on.

EIEIEIO…

 

The magic…

FA_Cup_logo_(2014)Northampton Town 3-2 Northwich Victoria

FA Cup Second Round

The magic of the FA Cup is often measured by how big a giant killing is, how obscure a player scoring a winning goal is or how far a minnow can travel through the rounds. But today at Sixfields we saw magic of a different kind. Yes, Northwich Victoria are some ninety league places below the Cobblers but that made what happened in the final few minutes no less enthralling and no less of a cup moment for a Cobblers side for whom everything is falling at the moment.

Northwich will be heartbroken this evening and with every reason. The Evo-Stick Division One league leaders gave every single ounce of themselves in effort, heart and application and go home with nothing but rightful pride in a performance that on most other days would have been making back page headlines.

The visitors soon let Town know that we were in a battle and settled the better of the two sides in the wind at Sixfields. There were no real clear cut chances but Northwich were forcing the issue more than a Cobblers side without the experience of Marc Richards, who was dropped to the bench in favour of Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The youngster was struggling to take hold of the game and help the team to control the ball up front as Rico does so well and the first period became more and more disjointed.

Northwich, then, deserved their shock lead which came in sloppy circumstances at the back. Zander Diamond failed to clear properly twice and Jimmy Ball finished well with a controlled effort from the edge of the area. The away fans were dreaming and won’t have seen anything in our play to suggest that it was to be a smash and grab effort. Ryan Cresswell’s header that was well saved was our only moment in front of goal before the opener and the non-league side were deservedly in front at the break.

It was the introduction of Rico at the break and then of Ricky Holmes on the hour mark that started to finally give us some hope with Holmes’ return from injury in particular creating a buzz around the ground. But it was Northwich who struck again to completely stun Sixfields when Brian Summerskill robbed an unusual hesitant David Buchanan and chipped the ball over Adam Smith onto the bar and Richard Bennett tapped in.

As seconds ticked by, all hope of even being in the hat with a draw looked more and more lost. But then the sprinkle of magic was spread and a ten minute period, not to be forgotten for a long, long time I’m sure, began.

First, Nicky Adams’ shot took a lucky deflection off Sam Hoskins and arrowed into the corner of the net. Game on and a much needed platform to build on for the final few frantic minutes of the game for the Cobblers. Then, a free kick from the left hand side just seconds later was met by the head of Jason Taylor and the ball nestled into the other corner for 2-2. The visitors were crestfallen and were cruelly beaten in the next couple of minutes.

Taylor fed Holmes on the right and his right footed cross with the outside of his foot found Calver-Lewin’s head for the most dramatic of winners.

Alex Byrne still had time to bring a fantastic close range save from Smith in the Cobblers goal but we held out for a victory that puts us in the Third Round draw for the first time in ten years. 2006 saw us go out in that Third Round to Crystal Palace but was also the year of a second place finish and promotion to League One.

For Northwich, they earned a lot of respect this afternoon and go out with their heads held high. They’ve lost just once in the league this season and will surely use this momentum to push for a promotion of their own. They looked a side well above their level and have a manager in Jim Gannon who knows exactly what he’s doing. Good luck to them.

The Cobblers go into Monday’s draw as Number 50 and it’s going to edge of the seat stuff with heavyweights like Leicester City thrown into the mix. Being in that hat is nothing short of a miracle after the events that gave us our own piece of FA Cup magic.

The perfect week…

Rico...ninth of the season

Rico…ninth of the season

Northampton Town 2-0 Yeovil Town

League Two

Saturday, November 28th 2015

Today could well have been the day that Northampton Town Football Club ceased to exist in its current form. Instead, following the passionate speech from Chris Wilder just over a week ago, the relief and joy of the subsequent takeover being complete and three league victories, the outlook has changed quicker than in any other seven day period in our history. Wilder has overseen the entire nervous, desperate and unsettling process impeccably and his reward should now be an extended deal at the very least. What he does have is a squad on the up and a short term future that is now as exciting as it’s been for many years.

Saturday’s victory over rock bottom Yeovil Town is a hugely important step in the upcoming journey. A wet and windy afternoon against a side bereft of confidence and results is a trickier obstacle than it seems on paper, especially with the Cobblers’ track record in exactly the same circumstances. The fact that we came out on top – even if the passionate home support were expecting it – shows yet another side to this group of players that are making themselves heroes as every week passes.

Town struck first on the counter attack with Alfie Potter releasing Lawson D’Ath through the middle. There was still plenty to be done but the midfielder rounded the keeper to slot home and a vital foothold was taken on a scrappy game. The second came mid-way through the second half with the latest in a long line of combinations involving Nicky Adams and Marc Richards that are becoming regular features. Rico finished for his ninth of the season and it was always going to be a long way back for the Glovers from there.

To their credit, Paul Sturrock’s men created a few chances that reminded us how fragile a lead can be no matter who you’re playing in this division but the Cobblers held firm and managed to close out the game impressively without really imposing much else on the visitors.

For a brief five minutes during that second half, results elsewhere meant that we were top of the league outright and though we weren’t eventually afforded that cherry on top of the cake we did end the day – and head into a big FA Cup weekend – joint top with Oxford United and Plymouth Argyle.

It’s a massive few weeks coming up with Northwich’s visit in the cup followed by a local derby at Luton and a top of the table clash at home to Portsmouth. Fellow promotion chasers Accrington Stanley also come to Sixfields before the calendar year is up and we’ll know a whole lot more about where we’re at by the time 2016 begins.

The tests come thick and fast but there’s no reason at all as to why these good times can’t continue to roll – the talent is there, the desire is there and, most crucially of all, the future is there. A week ago it didn’t look possible…right now the only way we’re looking is up.

Is it safe to talk about the football again?

O' Toole - winner

O’ Toole – winner

Crawley Town 1-2 Northampton Town

It’s been weeks since the hot topic of conversation has been on the astounding efforts of the Cobblers players on the pitch but today may be the start of a period to once again focus on what now looks like a genuine promotion challenge from the Cobblers.

After more fantastic news hours before kick-off at Crawley in that over £10 million worth of debt will now be taken from our shoulders and placed on the development surrounding Sixfields it was easy to be in an attitude of celebration no matter what the result last night.

As it was, Town produced yet another resolute performance that leaves us level on points with second placed Oxford United and within two points of leaders Plymouth Argyle. Crucially, we’re now eight points clear of eighth place and suddenly the future that looked so threatened a week ago is starting to look very bright indeed.

Assuming that all takeover paperwork is completed in good time, Town will go into the weekend knowing that whatever the result against rock bottom Yeovil Town, we’ll still be in the top three by the time the FA Cup weekend rolls around.

It’s thanks to a victory at Crawley that highlighted two sides to this unified Cobblers side – part clinical and part determined. Looking comfortable at 2-0 up by half-time – through a Joel Bryrom follow up header from a missed Marc Richards penalty and a fine strike from distance from John-Joe O’Toole – the Cobblers were reduced to ten men with half an hour to play which completely changed the course of the match.

Brendon Maloney was the man given his marching orders for bringing down Shamir Fenelon in the area and Simon Walton converted the resulting spot kick. There followed a final third that saw the type of frantic defending and last ditch tackling that’s become a staple of this squad. The fear was that with a deal for the club now close to being complete the players may drop slightly in their efforts but this was a huge step to proving that we’re not only a squad who fight when the chips are down around them but one who have loftier ambitions to stay in the promotion hunt through an exciting looking winter programme.

With Plymouth and Oxford both dropping points it was a massive result to cling onto all three points and the stage is now set for a celebration of a future being sealed this Saturday against Yeovil.

We can’t be counting any chickens about the result but the atmosphere should be red hot in the home ends as we reach the 20 game mark with the real possibility of going top of League Two. The fact that that’s the headline of the night is a hugely welcome relief.

Is it too soon for the #EIEIEIO hash tag? Indeed not…I’m pretty sure we’ve earned the right to bring it out of retirement…

Stepping up…

Hoskins...another big goal

Hoskins…another big goal

Morecambe 2-4 Northampton Town

While all around us continues to frustrate with the takeover now well into the period of due diligence and past yet another deadline date given by the powers that be, the Cobblers are at least making inroads into clawing back into the early group of pace setters in League Two. Wherever the next weeks or months take us, the results of the team are something to cling on to. Just as the Dagenham defeat a couple of weeks back was the catalyst for many to speak out against the owners, back to back wins following that have done a job of just about buying them time and keeping things sweet (ish).

Saturday was a huge away performance and showed again that on any given day anyone can beat anyone in this division. It’s far from a shock result of course but Morecambe were playing with a confidence coming into the game with four straight wins in all competitions ahead of welcoming the Cobblers.

Full credit must go to Chris Wilder for moulding a team together in the midst of all this takeover talk and it was a particularly impressive success on Saturday because of the absence of Marc Richards. In his place, Dominic Calvert-Lewin put in a good show and rounded his afternoon off with the killer fourth goal at a time when we could well have wobbled thanks to the home side pulling things back to 3-1.

It was great to see Lawson D’Ath getting back in the goals with his first of the season before Sam Hoskins continued his good run of form by netting his second in two games. Joe Byrom’s free kick looked to have completely ended the game as a contest but there’s always the worry with the Cobblers when a lead is reduced with plenty of time to play!

Tom Barkhuizan’s goal, though, only gave the slightest of hopes for Morecambe with Calvert-Lewin nipping in for Town’s fourth two minutes later. A late own goal, contested by a couple of covering Cobblers players, did little to cause the panic that the first Shrimps goal did and Wilder’s men confirmed a fine result.

It sets up a big ‘top of the table clash’ next week against league leaders Leyton Orient in a match that will again shine the focus once more on Sixfields and the ownership of our beloved club. If there are no further answers to questions that were well and truly pitched two weeks previous expect the high end battles to not just take place on the Sixfields turf.

Smith the hero again as solid Town hold on

Hoskins...match winner

Hoskins…match winner

Northampton Town 1-0 Oxford United

When the Cobblers signed Adam Smith after his acrimonious departure from Leicester City this summer, many, including myself, expected him to be playing back up fellow Sixfields bound stopper Ryan Clarke. But after impressive showings in pre-season, the rebuilding job he’s doing with his young career has well and truly rocketed off the ground. Smith is making all the early running in the Player of the Year award and after another superb showing on Saturday in a hugely needed 1-0 win over Oxford United you get the feeling that we’ve got a bit of a gem on our hands.

A penalty save with the Cobblers 1-0 up, but down to ten men thanks to Jason Taylor’s red card for an off the ball incident, was the highlight of the game for Smith but there were plenty of commanding moments including rushing out to block at strikers’ feet, quick reflex saves and a confidence that was lacking behind the back four last season.

Town needed a win like this to lift a crowd that was baying for answers to takeover questions and though the planned demonstration inside and outside of the ground had some effect it was peaceful enough that by the time Sam Hoskins grabbed his own big moment – glancing in his first league goal having come in for Alfie Potter – the focus was on unity and getting back on track.

Hoskins has been on the brink of a start and after last weekend’s disjointed team showing against Dagenham and Redbridge his energy and craft was a clever addition. The attacker is another of Wilder’s summer signings that’s been pretty consistent when he’s played and there’s no reason why he can’t be forcing his way into the reckoning on a permanent basis.

At the other end a strong backline was needed and the short term reinforcements of right back Darnell Furlong – seen playing Premier League football a few months ago – and centre back Shaun Brisley from Peterborough gave a more solid look to the defensive line that had to be strong in the face of a 10v11 second half.

That being said, Oxford appeared not to want to take the game to us and would have been disappointed that once Danny Hylton had the spot kick, awarded for Taylor indiscretion, saved beautifully by Smith just before half time they didn’t create enough to merit a point on a ground at which they blew us away last season.

It was a proper grind of a result and performance but the unity shown throughout was of complete contrast to a week ago when all involved trudged off to analyse where we went next.

That’s still the big question this week with the ‘due diligence’ period coming to an end for the takeover and if there’s still no noises coming from Sixfields in the next few days then the off field murmurs will creep back.

The ground work has been done, though, to ensure that the Cobblers are doing just enough to keep in touch with the rest of the division while the biggest saga at the club in years hopefully comes to an end.

We wait with baited breath…

The frailties of a disjointed Plan B

Watson...second debut to forget

Watson…second debut to forget

Northampton Town 0-2 Plymouth Argyle

This wasn’t the Cobblers that everyone was raving about seven days ago. This wasn’t the free flowing, dangerous side that had started the season so brightly. And this definitely wasn’t the Cobblers that we hoped would turn up against one of the better sides in League Two this season. It was the Cobblers who we’ve seen far too often before – a team who, when all else failed, resulted to long ball tactics to absolutely no effect and handed the game to the visitors with terrifying ease.

I was intrigued by a fresh Town line up and looking forward to seeing how we would match up at home to another attack minded outfit. But after a decent enough start where the Cobblers were tidy but ultimately ineffective, a silly goal was given away before the Pilgrims happily scrambled in a second to seal a fully deserved three points.

With Marc Richards, Nicky Adams, Alfie Potter, the recovered Zander Diamond and, in his re-debut, Ryan Watson all coming in after the dismal defeat at Barnet on Tuesday night, hope was that it was just a blip and we started reasonably well. Reuben Reid, one of a few attacking danger men for Argyle, was taken off early on to be replaced by Ryan Brunt and we were playing some decent stuff without ever producing the penetration needed to break down a stubborn Plymouth rear guard.

Adams had our first effort on goal before Lawson D’Ath shot over from long range but there was never a sense that the killer pass or cross was coming. Still, getting to the break at 0-0 wouldn’t have been a bad return but the killer turning point came just second before the whistle.

It was a nightmare moment for Watson, who was looking to prove himself for a second time in place of the suspended (and missed) Jason Taylor. With no danger, the Leicester loan man slipped in the middle of the park and Graham Carey snapped the ball up, raced through and cooly slotted in the opening goal into the corner of a helpless Adam Smith’s net.

The goal led Wilder into panic mode and Dominic Calvert-Lewin was brought on to necessitate a change to a more open 4-4-2 formation. It was too soon and rather than form a route back into the game, it led only to Plymouth having access to a whole new plethora of space in the middle of the park. While they made use of it and kept their steely nerve in place, passing the ball with ease, the Cobblers reverted to lumping the ball up towards targets that were never going to make the ball stick.

Had we stuck to the original game plan we would have at least had some cohesion to the play. As it was, there was no direction and a complete lack of a game plan. Whether that’s down to the players on the pitch or the manager is up for debate but Wilder is experienced enough to spot when something isn’t working and get the message across to his charges.

Plymouth, inevitably, took advantage and were, to be fair, very good themselves and earnt the second goal, given to them by a scrambled Jake Jervis effort from a corner with twenty minutes to go. Sam Hoskins and Paul Corry were the other subs to be used by Town but if we’d been playing all night we wouldn’t have found a way back in. Josh Lelan’s late red card summed up a dire second half.

The plus point in all of this is that this type of performance highlighted some huge flaws in our plan b before the transfer window closes in just over a weeks’ time. It’s glaringly obvious that we need back up in central defence and a different option up front who will make the ball stick if we’re to change tack at times to go long ball. There’s no point in going direct with no target man. Rico can try all he might but he needs to be eating off scraps rather than trying to be something he’s not.

The only other positive is the goalkeeper Adam Smith, who was commanding as well as being a fine shot stopper. He’ll win and keep us points by himself this season, I’ve no doubt about it.

Other than that, reality has well and truly hit the dream start to the 2015/16 season.

Individual thoughts on the new look Cobblers…

Adam Smith: Already looking an outstanding acquisition and is doing all his talking on the pitch since his acrimonious departure from Leicester.

Josh Lelan: Still extremely raw and the red card was a product of getting caught out of position too often. Brendon Maloney won’t be too worried about getting his place back once he returns from injury on this viewing.

Ryan Cresswell: As dominating as ever in the air but will be challenged pace-wise by many forwards this season.

Zander Diamond: Glad he’s back but as with Cresswell could be beaten too easily in ground races. I worry about options here.

David Buchanen: Touches of class but not the attacking force he’s been early season.

Ryan Watson: A second debut to forget and not just for the slip for the goal. Hopefully just early nerves.

Joel Byrom: Went missing at times when we needed a calming influence at 1-0 down.

Nicky Adams: Signs are there of a terrier like striker but needed to grab the game by the throat more often and drive us forward.

Alfie Potter: Was performing well in the number ten role before his half-time substitution.

Lawson D’Ath: Moments of class but again not enough drive and creativity on this occasion.

Marc Richards: Not showing his usual presence so far but needs to be the poacher rather than the target man.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Sub): Ineffectual and not the option we needed from the bench. Would work better if we’re defending a lead and need energy.

Sam Hoskins (Sub): Not enough time to play to his strengths and seemed a desperation sub rather than anything else.

Paul Corry (Sub): Played for the last fifteen minutes. Apparently.

Different venue, same outcome as Barnet sting Town again

Akinde...brace

Akinde…brace

Barnet 2-0 Northampton Town

The stadium and surroundings may have been different but it was the same old trip to Barnet last night as the Cobblers fell to a first defeat of the season. For the second successive season that the Bees have been in the league, their first win came against us and though last time out it was in October this will have meant just as much to get off the mark.

There’s undoubtedly feelings of revenge in the air for them too after Town relegated them in 2013 on a final day of the season that helped to spare AFC Wimbledon in the process. But the main point is that Chris Wilder has more thinking to do if he’s to get back to the positive feelings around the club by the time a dangerous Plymouth side arrive at Sixfields on Saturday afternoon.

Wilder made a big gamble by changing his successful starting eleven with key attacking options amended by choice (Marc Richards and Nicky Adams replaced by Sam Hoskins and Dominic Calvert-Lewin) and by necessity (Ricky Holmes injured in the warm up). Zander Diamond, taken off at half time against Exeter, was also missing through injury as Rod McDonald came in.

It was a gamble that the manager would eventually pay for as chances went begging in the first half and the home side came out with more intent to take the win after the break.

Hoskins and Calvert Lewin forced Bees keeper Graham Stack into a double save early on before Lawson D’Ath missed a golden opportunity from a spillage from the Barnet number one. The lack of a clinical touch would come back to haunt us as, despite good amounts of possession and intent, Town faded in the second half.

Luke Gambin’s introduction for the hosts on the hour sparked them into life and it was his run that set up John Akinde soon after with the striker going down under Jason Taylor’s challenge for a penalty. Taylor was swiftly shown red and the complexion of the game was turned completely on its head. Akinde slotted home the penalty and from then on it was all in Barnet’s hands.

Rico was introduced from the bench but couldn’t muster up anything as the Cobblers struggled with ten men. Adam Smith pulled off a top drawer double save from Andy Yiadom but couldn’t prevent the crucial second goal late on. Town had pushed Ryan Cresswell up front to try and nick an equaliser when the Bees broke away and Akinde rounded things off with a straight forward second, rounding Smith and passing the ball into the net.

So the dream start is over as Town come crashing back down to earth in true Barnet away day fashion! Plenty to ponder ahead of the visit of a Plymouth Argyle side that have also won two out of three games and come to Sixfields on the back of a crushing 4-1 defeat of Carlisle United on Tuesday night. With their own group of fine attacking talent, that one should see plenty of goals.

Less tinkering, more first team flair please Mr Wilder!

The perfect start

Taylor...first Cobblers goal

Taylor…first Cobblers goal

Northampton Town 3-0 Exeter City

Three win, seven goals, none conceded, six points, cup progress and a big name clash with Newcastle United drawn out of the hat. For the Cobblers in recent years, this represents nothing less than a dream start to the season. After years of false starts, new signings needing ‘time to gel’ and playing catch up with the rest of the division, we’ve finally begun with a flourish and it comes at, ironically, a time when everything off the field is at one of the most uncertain levels.

After a hard fought win at Bristol Rovers and easing past Blackpool this was another stern test and one in which the score line didn’t tell the whole story. Exeter have a fair bit about them this season and will no doubt be amongst the front runners in the playoff race so any time we can take three points and three goals from a side like this is fantastic. What’s so positive this season is that goals are coming from different places already and we’ve got even more energy going forwards than the decent side that finished the last campaign.

What the Cobblers finally seem to have (and I recognise the kiss of death potential here) is stability in a system, players who are making the it work and enough competition to really challenge each position whilst keeping a sense that we’re not overloaded with short term solutions. We’re playing without shackles, particularly at home, and there’s seems to be a real hunger around the squad.

For this one, Exeter will feel unlucky to lose as heavily as they did but the ruthless finishing that we’ve lacked in the past is now there with another three very different goals getting us over the line for a place in the very early leading pack in League Two.

The first was an absolute belter from Jason Taylor. Usually found breaking up attacks, providing the meat in the midfield sandwich and out muscling opposition, Taylor scored his first Cobblers goal, and what a beauty it was. The ball broke to the former Cheltenham man around twenty five yards out and the volley that he produced was heading into the top corner from the moment it left his boot.

That set the tide and soon it was two with Ryan Cresswell popping up with a trademark header before half time to put Town in control. There were some concerns at the break when Zander Diamond was taken off to be replaced by Rod McDonald but after the match it was confirmed that it was as a precaution with so many games coming up and McDonald would go on to play his part in a third straight clean sheet for the Cobblers.

After Alfie Potter missed a sitter following up from Lawson D’Ath’ s shot, Will Hoskins came close to halving the deficit for City but Adam Smith, returning in goal after being rested on Tuesday night, made a top drawer save. Had that gone in, the end result may well have looked different but it was the Cobblers who sealed the points in the final knockings.

Marc Richards, who had seen a couple of good chances go begging at Bristol and in this game, must be hugely relieved to be off the mark as he looks to top his goal scoring efforts from last season. It was a breakaway goal that closed the game out with Ricky Holmes racing down the right and crossing for Richards to calmly slot home.

It meant that the perfect week was completed in style and sends us to Barnet with spirit levels rocketing.

The Cobblers are in the groove.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

Travelling to Barnet on Tuesday night provides its own challenge with the Bees having lost both of their opening league games. They’ll be chomping at the bit to get off the mark and Martin Allen will have them hungry to get it right at the third attempt. It’s a shame we can’t bask in the glory of being fourth for a whole week…dare we dream of it getting even better?!

Wycombe, Leyton Orient, Portsmouth and Hartlepool join the Cobblers on six points with League Two boasting more teams with 100% records than the Championship and League One put together. All will be put to the test on Tuesday night with a full set of fixtures scheduled. Wycombe go to Morecambe, Orient are at home to Stevenage, Portsmouth are at Crawley and Hartlepool host Newport County.