It’s not over yet!


Northampton Town 1-3 Bradford City

We’re not quite there just yet. This was meant to be the day when safety was ensured, when it went beyond mathematics and the day in which we could all rejoice in confirming league status for another season. Unfortunately Bradford City didn’t see things that way and were on the hunt for precious survival points as well. They clearly hadn’t read our carefully laid out script and forced the Cobblers out of the game to ensure themselves the luxury of survival instead.

The difference in the first half was the burying of chances – quite a simple difference but one that’s effective in winning football matches, I find. Bradford’s Nahki Wells converted twice to have his side in front by the break, either side of three Cobblers chances that were all cleared off the goal line and one Ben Tozer effort that struck the bar.

There was the briefest of responses from Aidy Boothroyd’s men with Clarke Carlisle heading in his first in Town colours but within seconds that two goal lead was restored as Wells completed an impressive hat-trick and virtually ended the match despite there being over half an hour still to play.

You got the feeling that it just wasn’t to be our day. There would be no late come back this time, no drama in stoppage time. Quite simply Bradford seemed more up for it and we have to be careful not to let complacency slip in for the final few weeks of the season.

With Macclesfield picking up a point against Crewe we are eight points clear of the drop with the bottom two having nine to play for. It’s a massively unlikely possibility that we’ll be scrapping away for survival on the final day but I wouldn’t fancy us too much at Crawley on Tuesday meaning that next weekend’s trip to Hereford could be the one where we either confirm safety once and for all or get sucked right back into the race.

Today will hopefully be just a wakeup call that some of the players needed. There’s areas of the pitch where massive improvement is needed and it’ll be a long, hard slog of a summer for Boothroyd to get a squad together. That, unfortunately, starts with players leaving and those on the brink of departure need to step up their games now or they will definitely be on their way, especially if the manager does indeed intend to crop the squad down to nineteen or twenty players.

Let’s hope for better at Crawley…I for one would love us to put a dent in their automatic promotion hopes by securing safety. Stranger things have happened…

Northampton Town v Bradford City: Match Preview

So we’re one win away from winning the battle for good. The battle against the drop has been long and arduous but it could all come to a head this weekend should we overcome Bradford City at Sixfields. It’s been a monumental effort to get ourselves in such a position where we could still have four games to play after earning safety and what a great feeling that would be.

Bradford are no mugs though and can be dangerous on their day, as proven by their 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture back in October. Both clubs have suffered through a tough relegation scrap since that day, though…


The Cobblers may have lost on Easter Monday at Swindon but had, before that, only been beaten once in nine games. Home form has also picked up with five wins, one draw and just one defeat from the last seven at Sixfields.

Bradford are still looking over their shoulders slightly going into this weekend after three defeats in the last four games saw them fall to 21st in League Two. They’re still seven points clear of the bottom two though, so should be safe but for a disastrous last few weeks of the season.

Team News…

Aidy Boothroyd has revealed that he may make one or two changes for this one with a possible return for Toni Silva who was missing last Monday due to a family bereavement. If Silva doesn’t make it, Lewis Young may be one to get a chance after coming off the bench at Swindon.

Bradford have two players back that were suspended after the after match brawl with Crawley with keeper Jon McLaughlin back in the frame and Luke Oliver also available but City boss Phil Parkinson has made no guarantees for either to start. That might mean a quick Sixfields return for Matt Duke who spent a decent few games on loan here before his recall.

Duke...Sixfields return?

Club Links…

Matt Duke was, of course, recalled by Bradford from the Cobblers a couple of weeks ago thanks to an almighty brawl against Crawley that saw first choice keeper Jon McLaughlin sent off along with two team mates. Duke played nine times for Town during his loan spell at Sixfields.

Bradford defender Guy Branston is another former Cobblers loanee having played three times for Town in 2007.

Last Six Meetings…

22/10/11: Bradford 2-1 Cobblers

Earlier this season, the Cobblers fell to a narrow defeat at Valley Parade with Michael Jacobs’ belter of a strike cancelled out by a Craig Fagan penalty before James Hanson completed the fight back with the winner soon after.

19/03/11: Bradford 1-1 Cobblers

Gary Johnson collected his first point in charge of the club at Bradford in this draw back in March 2011. Jake Speight had given the Bantams the lead with an early penalty but Shaun Harrad cancelled that out with a spot kick of his own on the hour mark. Jonathon Worthington was sent off in stoppage time for the hosts.

25/09/11: Cobblers 2-0 Bradford

Just a few days after the big win at Liverpool in last season’s Carling Cup, the Cobblers kept up the high spirits with a comfortable home victory. Billy McKay and Ben Tozer scored the goals at Sixfields.

01/05/10: Bradford 2-0 Cobblers

Bradford all but ended the Cobblers’ feint playoff hopes in our last away game of the 2009/10 season as a brace from Gareth Evans was enough to see us off. Dean Beckwith’s 37th minute red card didn’t help things!

03/10/09: Cobblers 2-2 Bradford

The Cobblers fell two goals behind in this entertaining contest in October 2009 thanks to goals from Simon Ramsden and Michael Boulding in quick succession. But substitute Alex Dyer pulled one back before John Johnson equalised in the final minute of the game.

17/03/07: Bradford 1-2 Cobblers

Billy Paynter gave the home side the lead in this relegation battle in League One but Bradley Johnson equalised just two minutes later. And with two minutes to go, Kenny Deuchar scored the winner to push the Cobblers ever closer to safety.

The Man In The Middle…

Oliver Langford takes control of this one having already been involved in a Cobblers match this season. Unfortunately it was one to forget – the 4-1 reverse at  Plymouth Argyle!


So one more win and we’ll be over the finish line barring some ridiculous miracle of maths. I’ve got a good feeling that we will seal it on Saturday so am going for a 2-1 home win!

League Two Relegation Battle: The Run Ins…

It’s that time of year when graphics appear across Sky Sports News, Match of The Day and newspapers analysing the run-ins for the key battles of promotion, playoffs and relegation issues so I thought I would throw in a look at the League Two basement battle for good measure. The Cobblers are by no means out of it…I will be including teams from ourselves in 18th down to the bottom of the table. I would have included Burton but their mid-week victory has them ten points clear now and that should be enough.

Here goes then!

Northampton Town

The Cobblers have a game in hand on most teams below but face five away games in the last eight, starting at playoff chasing Crewe on Saturday. An Oxford-Swindon double over Easter looks daunting the say the least so the home clash with Bradford and trip to Hereford could well decide a part of our fate…

Fixtures: Crewe (a), Oxford (H), Swindon (a), Bradford (H), Crawley (a), Hereford (a), Gillingham (H), Rotherham (a)

Bradford City

One place and one point below Town are Bradford City and they go into a huge six pointer at Plymouth this weekend before facing one of the tougher run-ins of all the teams in trouble. Games against promotion chasing Southend, Shrewsbury, Cheltenham and Swindon as well as that trip to Sixfields make it a nervy ending for the Bantams…

Fixtures: Plymouth (a), Southend (H), Shrewsbury (a), Northampton (a), Macclesfield (H), Cheltenham (a), Swindon (H)


Home form will be crucial for Barnet as they look to keep their heads above water. The Bees are currently three points clear of the bottom two but have a tough Easter week that takes in a Tuesday night visit from Swindon, a Good Friday trip to Cheltenham and a Holiday Monday clash with Crawley. They also face a massive home game with Hereford on Friday 13th April…

Fixtures: Torquay (H), Swindon (H), Cheltenham (a), Crawley (H), Hereford (H), Southend (a), AFC Wimbledon (H), Burton Albion (a)

Dagenham and Redbridge

John Still’s men have clawed their way out of the bottom two in recent weeks and their destiny is in their own hands and they look to avoid a second successive relegation. The Daggers’ run in doesn’t look as bad as it could be and they will be quietly confident of survival…

Fixtures: Port Vale (a), Burton Albion (H), Gillingham (a), Aldershot (a), Crawley (H), Shrewsbury (a), Bristol Rovers (H)

Plymouth Argyle

The Plymouth board have decided that they will review manager Carl Fletcher’s position at the end of the season and survival would be a massive tick on his name should he help the Pilgrims to overcome the tense finale. They have a big couple of weeks coming up with the home game with Bradford coming up on Saturday before a trip to Hereford on Good Friday and a Home Park visit of Aldershot on Holiday Monday…

Fixtures: Bradford (H), Hereford (a), Aldershot (H), Swindon (a), Oxford (H), Morecambe (a), Cheltenham (H)

Macclesfield Town

Macclesfield are fifteen games without a win and have sunk into the bottom two so they face a mammoth task to pick up the pieces and get out of the downward spiral they find themselves in. The Silkmen have four games out of seven away from home and it’s a pretty tough looking run of fixtures for an out of form side…

Fixtures: Gillingham (a), Shrewsbury (H), Port Vale (a), Crewe (H), Bradford (a), Burton (H), Southend (a)

Hereford United

Rock bottom of the table are Hereford and their fate could be held in the three games against fellow strugglers in Plymouth, Barnet and the Cobblers because the final two games of the season see them come up against two of the current top three in Crawley and Torquay…

Fixtures: Rotherham (a), Plymouth (H), Accrington (a), Barnet (a), Northampton (H), Crawley (a), Torquay (H)

In conclusion…

So who goes down? I’m absolutely shocking at predictions, as highlighted by my predicted league table that I came up with at the start of the campaign so should probably keep quiet but I’ll stick my neck out and say that Hereford and Macclesfield will be the ones to eventually fall through the trap door. It’s likely to change a lot in the next few weeks but momentum is key at this stage and with some tough fixtures coming up for both I’m going for the current inhabitants of the bottom two to still be there come May 5th.

Keeper hoodoo continues!

Yet another chapter of the Cobblers’ goalkeeping hoodoo has now been written after Matt Duke’s parent club, Bradford City, had their number one keeper John McLaughlin sent off, along with two others plus two Crawley players, at the end of last night’s game. The FA have launched an investigation into the brawl that happened after Crawley had won 2-1 at Valley Parade after punches were thrown from both sets of players.

But, back to being selfish and looking at the implications to my own team, it leaves us with a dilemma once again having already lost December signing Shane Higgs to a long term injury just three games into his Cobblers career and Chris Weale to a knee injury suffered during the 1-0 win over AFC Wimbledon last month.

Duke was brought in as the third goalkeeping signing that Aidy Boothroyd had made in as many months but this time it’s Bradford who have held the key to us losing another stopper. Should Boothroyd go down the loan route again to replace Duke then whoever was brought in would be the FIFTH keeper to play under his reign with Freddy Hall also featuring around Christmas and the New Year!

It’s a real blow to the Cobblers with Duke having helped the club to put a distance of five points between us and the bottom two thanks to three clean sheets in the last four games so whatever happens now he will be one of the people to send a huge thank you to at the end of the season should we finish the job of surviving.