The list grows again!

Capital-One-Cup-1-1It feels as though more should be made of the Cobblers’ recent exploits in the League Cup. It’s becoming an annual tradition to come up against a higher league opponent and knock them for six in this competition and though we never seem to go on to a monumental and historical run in the cup this early humbling of a ‘giant’ is getting more and more regular.

Blackpool, admittedly, don’t fall in the same class as the likes of the Bolton, Reading, Ipswich, Wolves and Liverpool teams of past campaigns but it’s still a notable scalp especially with a 3-0 score line that illustrates both the disappointing demise of the Tangerines and the solid base of a Cobblers squad that Chris Wilder has put together.

Apart from the back four, that was unchanged from Saturday, there were changes across the pitch with Ryan Clarke staking his first official claim for the keeper’s jersey and Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Sam Hoskins given their first chance to shine in competitive action. Also included was Chris Hackett, and the winger did exactly what fellow transfer listed midfield John-Joe O’Toole did on Saturday by scoring the opening goal, no doubt giving Wilder more to think about.

In a stunning spell of ten minutes, Town went 3-0 up and all but ended the game as a contest by the half hour mark. Calvert-Lewin cleverly turned and shot into the corner for the second and Hoskins’ tenacity and will power gave him the Cobblers’ third as the striker battled his way through and finished left footed at the second attempt.

There could well have been more as well with Ryan Cresswell firing over when well positioned in the second half and Calvert-Lewin doing well to force another chance for himself that was saved by Tangerines keeper Kyle Letheren.

Blackpool were limited to a couple of good chances that they would have converted with a more ruthless front line. We’ll arguably come up against plenty more effective and trickier attacks back in League Two and anyone with a bit of pace could hurt us at the back but there seems to be a real fluidity to how we’re going forwards so far this season.

The new signings have bedded in well and early with the old heads giving us a good balance. You can’t get too carried away by two wins but from what I’ve seen so far highlights wise there’s a lot to be positive about as we head into another busy few days.

The Second Round draw takes place on Thursday evening so we wait to see what sort of reward we’ll get for this latest League Cup success story.

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Exeter City come to town on Saturday afternoon looking to build on their own terrific start to the season. The Grecians saw off relegated Yeovil 3-2 last week and then impressively won away 2-1 at League One promotion hopefuls Swindon Town on Tuesday night. That win at the County Ground saw former Cobbler Alex Nicholls net a top drawer opening goal and he’ll be desperate to impress once again in his first game back at Sixfields since leaving the Cobblers last season.

Speaking of ex Cobblers, check out former loanee Kemar Roofe’s strike at Brentford on Tuesday night during the U’s 4-0 hammering of the Bees. Goal of the cup candidate already…

Foot on the Gas

john-joe-otoole-northampton_3334877

Bristol Rovers 0-1 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, August 8th 2015

After a summer of unanswered questions, transfer sagas and takeover mysteries it felt like the Cobblers were going into the start of the season on Saturday not entirely ready. With Ivan Toney’s expected move to Newcastle United finally done earlier in the week and a hasty replacement found in loanee Dominic Calvert-Lewin from Sheffield United there was an uncertain air about the set up as we headed to what was a big early test at the Memorial Stadium.

Facing a newly promoted side on their own patch just after their elevation is never the first match you’d put down on your preferred opposition list for opening day but Chris Wilder had the boys ready to go and three vital points were bagged on the first weekend for the second season in a row. Mansfield Town were beaten 1-0 at Sixfields a year ago and this one followed a similar pattern with a tight game decided by the single goal.

In the goal scorer, we have another strange old dilemma. John-Joe O’Toole is currently on the transfer list but seemed to have a decent pre-season and was a surprise starter against his former club. The move could have gone either way but turned out to be a master stroke by Wilder as O’Toole rose to head home a magnificently volleyed cross from new boy David Buchanen. The midfielder, who had a bit of momentum in mid-season last time out before fading, is clearly motivated by either a possible change of situation here or to be noticed but either way it worked in our favour as the Gas were put to the sword.

Just as important was the clean sheet that will give confidence to the back four and goalkeeper Adam Smith, who beat Ryan Clarke to the gloves. It can only be a good thing that we’ve got two keepers on a pretty level setting going for the jersey every week and the competition for the spot will be one to watch in the coming weeks.

There wasn’t a complete onslaught that you might expect from Rovers after we took the lead but Smith had to be on his toes to stop Ellis Harrison after Ryan Cresswell had forced Smith’s opposite number Steve Mildenhall into action at the other end.

Celebrations, then, for nearly 600 travelling fans and a relieving three points to kick off the season in the West Country. There’s more to come from both sides this season but getting away from the Memorial Stadium with maximum points is something that I can’t see many teams doing in the coming months.

Let the claret surge, version 2.0 begin!

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Chris Wilder has hinted at changes for the League Cup tie with Blackpool on Tuesday night but believes that the side won’t see any reduction in quality. The Tangerines have had a tumultuous couple of years but started their League One season with a 2-2 draw at Colchester United on Saturday. I don’t believe some doom mongers who think a second successive relegation is on the cards for Blackpool and this will be a big tester and similar to a pre-season game with both sides looking to take shape.

Speaking of Colchester, the Cobblers have drawn the U’s at home in the First Round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy which takes place in the week beginning 31st August. Any home tie at this stage is a good draw and it’ll be another chance for Wilder to assess some different options.

Playoffs in sight as Town win fifth in a row!

Rico...another winner

Rico…another winner

The Cobblers’ claret surge goes on and on! A fifth win in a row is in itself a rarity for battle hardened Cobblers fans in recent years but combined with performances to match the increasingly secure points total this run turns into something that’s more and more impressive.

Saturday saw Morecambe give us one of the tougher run arounds of the five game winner streak amd the visitors could well have taken something from a game that on another day (perhaps when we were struggling) would have gone against us. But Town stood strong as well as producing another flowing display that was set into life after just twenty seven seconds by Joel Byrom’s close range effort.

The Shrimps, though, didn’t come to lie down and were perhaps boosted by the fact that they had no choice as to how to play with attack their only option. The equaliser was not a great surprise despite some more hard graft from a Cobblers side that have learnt to play in a number of different ways. Morecambe levelled when the lively as ever Jack Redshaw forced Matt Duke to palm the ball into the path of Jamie Devitt who took his chance to send us in all square at the break.

But with a newly instilled will to win and to keep the run going, the Cobblers weren’t to be denied and Evan Horwood’s scuffed shot was turned in by Marc Richards for his sixteenth goal of the season. Rico is now clear in the League Two scoring charts and we could well have our first Golden Boot winner in years on our hands. Considering he also missed a chunk of games early on, it’s a terrific return and one that doesn’t seem like it’s stopping any time soon.

Rico could even have added to it as well with a spot kick that smashed the post and in the process gave us a nervy old finish but despite the visitors hitting the woodwork themselves we held out for a victory that leaves us staring directly upwards rather than peering over our shoulders.

Just how far we can go is the big question – suddenly the playoffs are in sight with the Cobblers just five points shy of Bury in seventh. It’s now about keeping up this momentum and bouncing back quickly when the run ends. We will be beaten eventually of course but if the same belief that’s running through the club at the moment is still there then there’s no reason why we can’t still make something out of a season that was dead in the water at the end of 2014.

It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if, having won five in a row, we come up against bottom club Hartlepool on Tuesday night only to lose and get put back a step but perhaps that’s my years of being a Cobblers fan giving me a cynicism that’s not at all healthy!

All eyes north, then, for a long haul Tuesday night trip that may actually provide the biggest test of our resolve so far…

4 Years. 43 Days. 22 Hours

faithexeterExeter City 0-2 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, January 10th 2015

It’s all about the timing. As soon as I found out I was becoming a father back in 2010, one of the first things (after panic, nappies and putting Ikea cots together) that came into my mind was the moment when I would walk through a football turnstile for the first time with my child, introducing them to all the wonders that following the Cobblers brings. Wembley, thankfully, seemed too early. Some games were discounted because of the emotions involved (E.g. Dagenham, Oxford). But for some reason, a blank Saturday last weekend coupled with the Cobblers being within a couple of hours away from my exiled location in Exeter it just felt like the right time for an adventure. Faith Brothers would be introduced to Northampton Town Football Club on January 10th 2015 – 4 years, 43 days and 22 hours after coming into the world.

After preparing her for a couple of days in advance, Faith had begun Saturday by excitedly making a flag from an old paintbrush and tissue paper and we were ready to go – an adventure to cold Devon via a couple of trains and endless games of “I Spy.”

There were other reasons for choosing Exeter as the venue for Faith’s first game – Martha lived in the city for six months in our ‘courting’ days and memories of a commute to travel down to see her came flooding back as the train pulled in to Exeter Central. What would usually be a pub stop turned out to be a cup of juice and a bacon sandwich at a local café and we were into St. James’ Park by 2:30 (looking back it was a little too early!). The feeling was a bizarre one but definitely felt like it was the right time in the father-daughter bonding experience to make the step from Sunday morning TV highlights to the big stage of a live League Two battle.

Anyone who’s taken their kids to the football for the first time will tell you that certain things are very different from any match you’ve ever been to before. You start looking for other families to sit near rather than taking up a place next to the loony/drunk fan that’s starting all the songs. Luckily City had a family seating section available for away fans which, despite a few pillars, provided a good vantage point and a friendly atmosphere. You also find yourself much more relaxed because of you have to change your language from “Get into him” to “Uh oh, that was a close one” or “Go OOOOON” to “Ooooh what’s going to happen?!” The whole thing brought me back to my own innocent eyes watching the Cobblers for the first time and was a healthy return to the things that made me fall in love with the game in the first place.

So this is what Faith’s match report would look like:

“We wanted yellows to win. Reds nearly score three times. Yellows score! Yellow score again! I don’t like the sudden loud cheers. Oooh crisps! Want to break my flag now. Yum, sandwich. Something else happened. Bit bored now. Time to go.”

In the interest of people who clicked this blog to read a more ‘grown up’ report, here’s how I saw it:

The Cobblers started shakily and the home side were producing some good chances with through balls over the top of the Town defence. A Lee Collins slip let in Tom Nichols early on but the City striker shot tamely at Matt Duke who palmed the ball wide. The Cobblers were taking time to settle and could have been a couple of goals down by the half way mark of the first 45. Nichols went close again after racing through and lobbing Duke before Aaron Davies almost broke the deadlock with an effort from range that Duke did well to palm over the bar.

Seemingly out of nowhere, though, Town found a breakthrough against the run of play. It was that man Marc Richards once again who set us on the way by stopping low to nod in John-Joe O’Toole’s flick for the opening goal. City keeper James Hamon presented Richards with a golden opportunity to quickly double his tally for the afternoon moments later but Rico uncharacteristically shot wide.

It was left to O’Toole to make it 2-0 as he finally got off the mark for the club. His was an overall performance that was arguably his best since signing in the summer and with a greater focus on acting as a forward target rather than a drifting midfielder he seemed to flourish. Some good work on the right from Lawson D’Ath, a man who has impressed me every time I’ve seen him play, O’Toole latched onto a through ball to beat Hamon to the ball and slid it in to give us an unexpected control of the game.

O’Toole could have had a second early in the second half but headed wide before Alex Nicholls entered the fray to applause from both sets of fans. He had a good chance to halve the deficit but headed straight into Duke’s arms. The Cobblers were holding firm and it was always going to be a different second half as we protected a precious lead.

There was no real intent from Exeter to get back into the game and Town saw the game out very well indeed. If last Saturday’s draw with Southend wasn’t a turning point then this result and gritty performance could well be.

After a winter detox of players leaving the club and loans going back we seem to be in a much more positive position with an unchanged side for the first time this season. The Cobblers were wonderfully balanced with the graft of Jason Taylor in the middle of the park complimented by Joel Byrom’s clever play ahead of him and new winger Rickie Holmes producing some terrific bursts of pace opposite the always hearty and battling D’Ath.

Defensively there were one or two slips but just having solid full backs and a central partnership with decent understanding is a good start. Rico is always going to put in chances for us and may be the difference between a relegation battle and mid-table security. O’Toole is hopefully starting to turn things around and if we can get more from him then the possibility of losing Ivan Toney becomes a little easier to bear.

All in all, then, Faith’s first game won’t be one that she’ll always remember barring my wistful reminisces in years to come but no-one can take away from her the fact that her debut saw us win, keep a clean sheet and go home very happy.

As for the effects, two home games coming up makes this a big, big win and if we can back it up with a couple more positive results then the bleak midwinter blues will be fully swept away. The road to recovery has been found – now it’s all about following it through to the end.

One small step for man…

D'Ath...equaliser

D’Ath…equaliser

2015 has started with a freshness that was so vitally needed from the whole of Northampton Town Football Club. The rot was only partially stopped on Saturday with a draw but the fact that it came against a strong and much fancied Southend side and, perhaps more importantly, with a much improved performance meant that for the first weekend in what seems like months we could see some light at the end of the tunnel.

The Shrimpers are veterans at coming to Sixfields and nicking three points so when they took the lead following a Matt Duke clanger it was looking like more doom and gloom despite a positive first half that had seen new loan signings Brendan Maloney, Rickie Holmes and Jason Taylor bedding in very well. They all sounded like strong additions in their own way and the whole team felt a lot more balanced from the word go.

Credit to the side for having the spirit to bounce back – many teams on such a barren run of results would have folded but Town stepped up and one of the few stand out players of the season, Lawson D’Ath rose to nod in what could be the most crucial goal of Chris Wilder’s tenure since Ivan Toney set Dagenham alight in April last year.

So what next? It’s hard to fully explode with optimism but the performance and appreciation of it by the home support is key – if we can just get more of this type of result and move away slowly from the clutches of the bottom two then some of the bleak midwinter will be eased. Exeter away up next is a big test for version two of this season’s littered squad and to convince us all that those darker days are behind us will require more of the same.

Down Town Abbey…

abbey-stadium-112

You know something’s about to happen when you see that the Cobblers have a strong record at a certain away ground we’re about to visit or are hosting a team who haven’t won at Sixfields in X amount of visits. I wish those statisticians would keep quiet because as soon as they rear their head Cobblers Law kicks in and we know that records are about to be broken.

So to the Abbey Stadium on Friday night – scenes of many good memories over the years: Jamie Forrester’s two wonder goals in a 2-1 win, coming from 3-1 down to nick a 3-3 draw, an entertaining FA Cup draw and a Chris Willmott 90th minute winner all spring to mind. I had no idea during all of those good times that a record was being built on quietly – one of years’ worth of visits without the Cobblers losing.

Once again, the curse kicked in on Friday as the U’s came from behind to beat a Town side who are now, despite the win over Wimbledon a couple of weeks ago, in steady decline.

It would, of course, be wrong to blame this on fate. There’s something about the side that just doesn’t feel right at the moment. Things aren’t clicking how they were in the early season, defending is at a standstill and those injuries just keep on coming. It’s a miracle these days if we get through a weekend without a new injury and Tom Newey was added to the roll call half an hour in. It’s shocking for continuity when the team is dropping like the proverbial fly and we’re unlikely to build up a bid for even a top half finish with the sort of problems we’re having on that front.

The Cobblers briefly threatened to win it thanks to Ivan Toney’s much needed goal just after half-time – the young lad is bound to blow hot and cold in his first full season but it would have been a huge confidence booster. Even more so had the team kept hold of the lead it gave them for more than a minute but Cambridge were straight up the other end to level before Ryan Bird won it far too easily and with too much predictability.

You can point at a goal mouth scramble and a goal line clearance as unlucky reasons to not at least get a point but the fact is we’re losing far too much and are headed straight back towards the direction Chris Wilder found us in just over a year ago. He has a big, big job on his hands now to make sure that all his, and the players’, hard work from January to May isn’t wasted.

We undoubtedly have a stronger side in place even with the injuries but there’s so much that needs be addressed. From comments coming out of the last couple of weeks a lot of supporters have felt drained. We’re in need of a great big shot in the arm but you just can’t seem to tell where on earth it’s going to come from.

As for Tuesday night’s cup replay, I think I was more confident of us beating Wolves away earlier in the season than I am that we’ll get through at Spotland –  with a lower league club than them awaiting in Round Two they’ll be well up for it and planning ahead. Next week’s home game with Stevenage becomes pivotal and will see us come under plenty of pressure.

Just don’t tell me about any records in the coming few days!

Nicholls steals the thunder with memorable goal…

Nicholls...big return

Nicholls…big return

After four ex Cobblers already this season came back to haunt us, you would have put your mortgage on Bayo Akinfenwa adding to that list when he came back to town on Saturday. It was as dead cert a bet to make before the game and was perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the season that he actually had a pretty quiet game.

Instead of the big man stealing the glory, it was one of his former team mates who made all the headlines with Alex Nicholls scoring his first goal at Sixfields in just over two years since the injury that threatened to end his career.

It was a game, against a decent Wimbledon side, that needed that extra spark and moment to make it stand out from the rest and Nicholls’ goal – a well taken finish after a rebound from the goalkeeper – provided just the tonic to end a dreadful run of results through late October. You can hear the joy around the ground when the ball flies in and it marks a significant moment in the recovery of a player that many couldn’t see kicking a football again.

The goal and the win, started by Kaid Mohammed’s return to form in front of goal, couldn’t have come at a better time. With two cup games coming up in the coming week and a bit it would have been a desperately long wait had we extended our losing run even further. Now we can head into the double header against League One’s Rochdale and Leyton Orient with a little bit if steam behind us.

Rochdale are up first and it has the makings of a decent, but difficult, tie. They’re on fire at the moment and smashed promotion hopefuls Preston North End 3-0 on Saturday to record a third straight win with all of those victories seeing them score three goals. Keith Hill has done a fantastic job once again and his side will be confident going into the weekend.

It seems a pretty pivotal month for the Cobblers with everything going on (or not going on) off the pitch making it a nervy place to be at the moment so a good run in either of these cups would be more than welcome.

There were a couple of new faces in against the Dons and both Tom Newey and Stewart Murdoch slotted in pretty well by all accounts with both available to play in the FA Cup on Saturday. We can’t dip into the loan market any more at this point and that’s probably a good thing – the positives with the double signing at the end of last week is that both are until January and not just the one month stop gaps we’ve been plagued with in the past.

It’s been good to see the loan system not used for a quick fix striker and for Nicholls to get his big chance to shine again in the absence of Marc Richards. Now for a few more to finally wash out those cobwebs once and for all.

A few weeks ago I looked at the top 20 moments in Sixfields history – I would be interested to see where Nicholls’ goal on Saturday would poll given the chance but it’s fair to say we have our first nomination for the second twenty years…

Back on track for tough run of games

morecambe_fc_0Morecambe 0-1 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, September 28th 2014

Ten games in to a season is usually a good check point as to how you’re getting on and where the campaign may take you so victory yesterday at Morecambe was a much needed booster as we reach the first unofficial marker. Ivan Toney’s first half goal means that it’s a record of five wins, two draws and three defeats after ten games with eighteen goals scored (the highest in League Two) and thirteen conceded (the highest in the top ten). Seventeen points is a good return and sets up the coming month of difficult looking fixtures with the Cobblers in fifth place.

To put it in perspective, after ten games last season we had only just won for the second time and sat second bottom of the table with just eight points and eight goals to our name – all in all a fantastic turn around that, despite one or two big hiccups, leaves us in good stead.

One major change is a strength in depth not seen for many a year within the Cobblers squad. Yesterday saw Marc Richards and Danny Alfei added to the injury list and Zander Diamond failing a late fitness test – to be able to bring in Toney, Ben Tozer and Lee Collins as replacements and for it to not disturb our pattern of play makes such a difference and it’s something that we’ll cling dearly to as the winter kicks in and games come thick and fast.

Morecambe have stalled on their particular journey of late having stunned a lot of the division by taking the early lead in proceedings. Town met them after they’d suffered back to back defeats and it was perhaps a good time to catch them, though the way we kept a clean sheet after last weekend’s atrocity against Accrington and found a way to hold on to the winner will have pleased Wilder and co.

The only goal of the game came after the always lively Kevin Ellison had shot wide for Morecambe with Toney leaping well to beat home keeper Barry Roache to the ball with a towering header. We were never truly in danger of surrendering that lead but there was always the doubt in the back of the mind after last week’s goings on.

Jordan Archer would have been one of the happiest men on the team bus home – he’s had a tough introduction to life at Sixfields having been thrust in to take the place of the injured Matt Duke. He’ll certainly be tested more in the next few weeks with games against the league’s current top two coming either side of the trip to Portsmouth in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and an always tricky one at Cheltenham after that.

We move onwards with confidence into the next ten games and if we can match the form of the opening ten then we’ll be there or there abouts going into Christmas. Sounds easy, right…?

One step forward, two steps back…

Northampton Town 4-5 Accrington Stanley

League Two

Saturday, September 20th 2014

We should have known not to get complacent…after the hammering of Hartlepool United on Tuesday night we were perhaps in too deep with our optimism. Accrington Stanley at home looked to be the perfect follow up with the chance to leap even further up the table but once again football kicks us right in the teeth in bizarre manner with the visitors making the most of slack defending and the Cobblers unable to make up for it despite more goals in the ‘For’ column.

Some of the goals that Stanley scored were straight out of the dark days … indeed even a couple of the slips were out of the same drawer as the last time nine goals were scored in one game at Sixfields, the 7-2 defeat by Shrewsbury in 2011. It obviously wasn’t as bad as that overall but the shakiness of our defensive work is threatening to put pay to any dreams of finishing in the top seven. All the joy of Tuesday was wiped away by an Accrington side with new direction thanks to the reappointment of John Coleman earlier this week.

Big questions have to be asked about some key positions here. Matt Duke’s injury has hit us more than anticipated. Jordan Archer just doesn’t seem to have a command over his area that Duke does. It’s not completely down to the on loan keeper but a big voice from the back is a key part of defensive organisation and understanding. In front of him, Zander Diamond’s presence was missed too but there’s more pressing issues in the full back position with Gregor Robertson and Danny Alfei getting caught out far too often – indeed both at the same time when they both went for the same ball to let in John O’Sullivan for the crucial third goal of the game after Marc Richards had headed in to cancel out Rob Atkinson’s opener.

If anyone thought that Rico’s latest goal, his seventh in five games, was about to kick start another comfortable game then they were sorely wrong. Stanley followed up O’Sullivan’s strike with a third before the break when Atkinson’s header went in via the post and Archer.

It got no better after half-time as O’Sullivan found space yet again on the right, cut inside and had all the time in the world to fire into the top corner from close range, beating three of four static Cobblers defenders to fire in and stun Sixfields even further. Substitute Ivan Toney scrambled in for 4-2 but the three goal cushion was restored a few minutes later when Sean Maguire got on the end of a knock down to poke in past Archer.

The Cobblers wouldn’t be the Cobblers this season without a bit of late drama but Toney’s second – a header from a Kaid Mohammed cross – and Darren Carter’s 90th minute effort weren’t enough and Accrington held firm for an afternoon they’ll remember for quite some time. Unfortunately, so will we.

Chris Wilder has promised changes for next week’s trip to Morecambe and it doesn’t have to just be personnel changes…when you’re defending at this level it needs to be from the front and full backs have to be protected. Chris Hackett and Mohammed are going to have to change mind sets a little and make sure they’re not leaving the man behind them all at sea – we’re not good enough in that area and teams are going to start to recognise that as we go further into the season. Kevin Ellison will be one man licking his lips ahead of next week’s game at Morecambe and Wilder has a big job on his hands to make sure this sort of madness doesn’t happen again.

With two steps firmly back after all of that, some big readjustments are needed in the coming days.

The Perfect Response

Mohammed

Northampton Town 5-1 Hartlepool United

League Two

Tuesday, September 16th 2014

As far as responses to a defeat goes this was pretty close to perfect. It was a night where, even after conceding a disappointing opening goal via a slip from Ryan Cresswell, the Cobblers opened their wings and let loose to devastating effect. Town showed some breath taking attacking flair, scored some excellent goals and completely blew away a Hartlepool side who didn’t know what had hit them by the end of a memorable night for Chris Wilder and his increasingly effective side.

An added bonus was the continuity of Marc Richards’ terrific run of form in front of goal. The striker is on fire at the moment and a brace against the Monkey Hangers takes him to seven goals this season already and to joint top in the League Two leading scorer charts. There were also classy performances from the likes of Kaid Mohammed, who returned after missing out at Newport to score twice himself, Chris Hackett and Lawson D’Ath. D’Ath was sent out from the start to partner Richards up front and his rise to prominence will be starting to worry Jon-Joe O’Toole, Ivan Toney and Emile Sinclair in terms of the battle for long term starting places.

You would never have guessed at what was to come when the visitors took the lead within the first minute of the game. Charlie Wyke, who later had to leave the field in worrying fashion on a stretcher, made the most of the Cobblers’ defensive error to race through and score past Jordan Archer in the Town goal.

But as soon as Richards had levelled with a penalty ten minutes later following Mohammed being felled in the area there was no looking back. Mohammed hit a sweet shot on the half volley for 2-1 after Chris Hackett had created the chance and the two combined again for the third with Hackett’s cross converted by Mohammed at the back post.

Wyke’s injury for the visitors seemed to hinder their attacking options with veteran Marlon Harewood ineffective after replacing the goal scorer. The Cobblers, though, were looking dangerous from every attack and added to their tally after the break.

D’Ath nicked a deserved goal to add to his growing collection and you would be a wise man to bet on his short term deal being extended sometime soon. He’s been effective pretty much every time he’s come off the bench and is up to four goals already including Saturday’s belter at Newport and Wilder must be looking at his contract situation this morning after another telling performance.

The last goal rounded things off marvellously as Richards produced another moment of magic to add to his own personal goal of the season competition with a stunning long range effort into the top corner. It was the perfect way to end a Cobblers performance full of intent and now focus has to go on not being complacent come the weekend visit of Accrington Stanley to Sixfields.

Stanley are reeling after losing at Oxford last night and sit in the lower reaches of the table so many will see them as there for the taking. What football does, though, is shoot you right in the foot if you get above your station and we have to channel all the positives from this win into doing it all again on Saturday. It’s a tough league to predict week in, week out and we’re not going to convert chances like this every time so it’s all going to be about finding consistency through winning in different ways.

This Cobblers side, though, is starting to look very, very exciting and giving us that hope that this could be a season we talk about long into the future for all the right reasons.