As February came into view, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink seemed to finally have his marbles in order, his team in some sort of shape and his new signings playing ball and it was time to look up the table rather than down it, powered on by the momentum gained in a spectacular (by our standards) January.
What better way to start than with a home game against a Rochdale side distracted by a fine run in the FA Cup? Obviously this game appearing like a beacon of hope for three pocketable points should have been a warning sign. Dale promptly came, saw and took home a single goal victory thanks to Calvin Andrew.
The Cobblers were, though, putting out their best work on the road and the away form was helping to keep our heads just above water. Goals from Matt Grimes, Matt Crooks and Daniel Powell helped us to an impressive 3-1 success at AFC Wimbledon to keep up an unbeaten away run in 2018 that would stretch through the first couple of months of the calendar year.
Then it happened. I’m sure how to describe it other than an atrocity of a first half performance. A team that had looked so good at Wimbledon was suddenly looking as abject as anything put out in many a year, especially at a stunned Sixfields. Gillingham could and should have been more than 2-0 up at half-time in a game that even Terry Fenwick would have despaired at. The fact that Town pulled one back in the second half through Ash Taylor did nothing to hide the abomination of that first forty five yet we could easily have nicked a point. Hildeberto Pereira’s red card for falling for Lee Martin’s tricks and reacting to the former Town man in a way that many in the stands would have liked to have reacted put the seal on a dismal night.
This was about the time in the season where Jimmy’s tinkering grew to whole new levels and his relationship with the Cobblers faithful took a turn as players began popping up in strange positions and his post match reactions attempted to hide the baffling nature of his teams performances.
Next up was a trip to Scunthorpe United and Town took the lead twice through Chris Long and John-Joe O’Toole but both times the hosts hit back to earn what, on paper, was a very good point. It was the form at Sixfields, though, that was dragging us down, so much so that a 0-0 draw with Oxford United a week later was seen as something of a success despite a smattering of boos greeting the full time whistle.
Town ended the month in 19th place but most sides still held plenty of games in hand over us, setting up a frantic few Tuesday nights in the run-in as gaps started to close and the net began closing in.
@James_ChronNTFC: HT: Cobblers 0-2 Gillingham. Just when you think you have this #ntfc team figured out, they throw in a 45 minutes like that. Beyond bad. 2-0 flatters them. Cue boos.
@chronsport HT Cobblers 0 Gillingham 2 – and so ends a truly awful first half from the Cobblers. Clueless as an attacking force, all over the place in defence. It can only get better #ntfc
@dannybrothers #ntfc form is like a toddler having constant tantrums and then coming back downstairs with a heartfelt apology every time.
Moment of the Month:
The 3-1 victory at Wimbledon looked a huge result at the time.
Player of the Month:
Richard O’Donnell picked up the official award after a strong start to his Town career.
Song for the Month:
Coming Up: March blues as Jimmy’s reign unravels and the Cobblers drift towards eventual doom. Looking forward to it…