Parity restored…now for a huge Good Friday!

MarquisNorthampton Town 1-0 Burton Albion

League Two

Saturday, April 12th 2014

There were periods of shambolic football. There was sudden hope and light at the end of the tunnel. There was more disappointment. There was the sense that all was lost. And then, suddenly, there was parity and a level playing field after months of torture. The Cobblers are level on points – finally – with the team in 22nd place in League Two and it just so happens that the team occupying that spot, Wycombe Wanderers, are the next opposition.

The Chairboys’ defeat at Newport County brought them to within touching distance of the Cobblers but it was events at Sixfields that created the most buzz and reinvigorated a season that a couple of weeks ago looked all but over. Town scrapped and fought their way to a single goal victory over Burton Albion, a side chasing automatic promotion, and ended up with the prize we’ve been craving since Chris Wilder took over – it’s now all in our own hands.

John Marquis was the man to produce the moment that would edge a tight contest as his shot was fumbled into the net by Burton keeper Robert Lainton with just a couple of minutes left until the break. It was the conclusion of a half that had seen the Cobblers adjust well to a change of shape to accommodate the big absences of Darren Carter and Zander Diamond. There were few chances until the goal but Albion could have been level straight away had Gregor Robertson not denied Shane Cansdell-Sheriff brilliantly in front of goal.

The second half was always going to be a tense, nervous one for the Cobblers but there never seemed huge danger from the visitors with Billy Kee’s cross-shot tipped onto the bar by Matt Duke proving to be Albion’s best effort. The atmosphere temporarily shifted to welcome back Kelvin Langmead from an eleven month absence and he slotted into defence for the last fifteen minutes or so after coming off the bench. Langmead’s recovery has been long and arduous but he may yet have a crucial role to play as we head into four incredible games that will decide our fate.

Saturday was hopefully just the start and it was so, so important to get the supporters, some of whom had given up after the Bury defeat, back into a state of believing once again. The atmosphere was back, the players responded and three points were garnered. Job done, and now four remain – win them all and we’ll be playing League Two football again next season.

That, of course, is unlikely and we know our beloved club well enough to know that during these last three weeks there’s more twists to come. We have, though, put ourselves in the pack and can drag not only Wycombe but plenty of others into big trouble if we win and bring ourselves out of the bottom two on Friday afternoon.

Wycombe will be just as up for it as us, though, so we need to take as many there as possible to create an atmosphere like we know we can do on our travels. We’ve had some unbelievable away days in recent years and if this one ends up with the Cobblers out of the drop zone then it will surely go down on that list of watershed moments.

Our club are dangling that carrot of hope in front of us once again…now is the time to bite!

Northampton Town v Burton Albion: Match Preview


Northampton Town v Burton Albion

League Two

Saturday, April 12th 2014

A year ago this would have been a crunch game between two promotion chasing clubs. Since then, though, only Burton have taken last season’s form on to challenge for a place in League One again. The importance for the Cobblers is, of course, the fight against relegation this time around and with a monumentally decisive Easter double header coming up against Wycombe and Portsmouth we desperately need three points here.

The visitors come to Sixfields having kept three clean sheets in a row with back to back 1-0 home victories over Wycombe and Plymouth sandwiching a goalless draw at fellow promotion hopefuls York City. They’ve also only been beaten once in nine games and sit just three points off a place in the top three. It’s a very similar position to the one that the Cobblers found themselves in at this stage last season and we can only look in envy as we try to ensure that we get another crack at League Two in August.

The big talking point from a Cobblers point of view is the possible return of Captain Marvel Kelvin Langmead to action after eleven months on the sidelines. Langers has been the biggest absentee this season but with a couple of injury and eligibility issues at the back there’s a small chance that he will play some part after coming through seventy minutes of a behind closed doors game recently. Chris Wilder included him in the warm up last weekend at Accrington and, whilst he’ll be wary of throwing him in too soon (Hi Aidy, how’s it going?!), he’ll be more than tempted to call upon a man who may yet have a big role to play in league survival.

Whether that survival comes to fruition depends on a sterling effort from every single player from here on in though. Sixfields can be quite unforgiving at times and now we have to turn things on their heads and make it unforgiving for the opposition and not just for the players we’re entrusting with keeping our football club in the league.

Team News…

The Cobblers will be missing key duo Zander Diamond and Darren Carter with Diamond ineligible to play against his parent club and Carter suspended after picking up too many bookings in recent weeks which means he also misses the key trip to Wycombe on Good Friday. The aforementioned Langmead may start on the bench with Gregor Robertson the likeliest to come in for Diamond. Ben Tozer is set to come into the midfield in place of Carter with Gary Deegan another option (kind of).

Burton have top scorer Adam McGurk back after a hip injury and Phil Edwards and Marcus Holness return to the squad following illnesses.

Previous Six Meetings…

26/12/13: Burton 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)

The sides last met on Boxing Day with Ian Sharps’ header five minutes from time proving decisive in a tight contest at the Pirelli Stadium.

19/01/13: Cobblers 1-0 Burton (League Two)

In an equally close game in January 2013 it was Bayo Akinfenwa’s goal that won it for the Cobblers near the start of a long winning run at Sixfields/

29/09/12: Burton 3-3 Cobblers (League Two)

In a belter of a game at the Pirelli, Calvin Zola put the Brewers in front early on before a Kelvin Langmead own goal made it 2-0. Langmead made amends pretty quickly though by halving the deficit himself and David Artell equalised with fifteen minutes to play. There was still time for more drama, though, as Zander Diamond put the hosts back in front five minutes later and Alex Nicholls produced a stunner to finally take home a point for Town.

20/03/12: Burton 0-1 Cobblers (League Two)

In a massive six pointer at the wrong end of League Two, the Cobblers scored an injury time winner through Kelvin Langmead to move a step closer to survival at the end of the 2011/12 season.

26/12/11: Cobblers 2-3 Burton (League Two)

On Boxing Day of that season there were two goals in two minutes at Sixfields as the Cobblers took the lead through on loan striker Saido Berahino before Cleveland Taylor equalised for the visitors seconds later. Michael Jacobs put Town back in front from the spot but after John Johnson was sent off on eighteen minutes it was an uphill struggle for the Cobblers and Chris Palmer levelled things on the hour. Justin Richards would eventually seal the win for his side with a late penalty to keep us in the bottom two.

05/04/11: Burton 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)

Guillem Bauza gave the Cobblers the lead at the Pirelli Stadium but Aaron Webster equalised for the hosts just before half time.

The man in the middle…

The referee on Saturday will be Carl Berry who last took charge of the Cobblers in September 2012 for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win over MK Dons at Sixfields. Later that season he officiated Burton’s 2-1 win at Aldershot and was the referee for their recent 0-0 draw at Portsmouth.


Five games to go, three points from safety. I don’t need to write any more clichés about cup finals or must wins so it’s just all about going for it, getting behind the team and, most importantly, believing. 2-1.

Weekend victory lifts Town to sixth but is Bayo on his way?

Bayo...winning goal...but is he on his way?!

Bayo…winning goal…but is he on his way?!

Northampton Town 1-0 Burton Albion

League Two

Saturday, January 26th 2012

Two big talking points came from Saturday’s narrow win over Burton Albion, one huge in terms of the new look League Two table and one arguably even bigger coming from the possibility of the Cobblers’ talisman Bayo Akinfenwa leaving the club. Just as it was back in August we are hanging on the edge of losing the big man, this time off the back of a fifteenth goal of the season in this latest home victory.

Sixfields has been called a ‘second home’ by Bayo over the last couple of days and if he continues to be housed by our quaint dwelling on Upton Way it could well go a long way towards helping us towards holding onto this positive league position all the way up until May.

That position is now sixth following a number of postponements from other games over this weekend. It’s by no means a false position though – this victory in a way counts towards our game in hand and brings us level on games played with most of our closest rivals who are clamouring for a place in the top seven. Indeed, a victory at Aldershot on Tuesday night, a night when no others in League Two play, would lift us temporarily into third. Let’s not get that carried away just yet though!

Burton came to Sixfields looking to end Town’s run of home victories that have helped us to this elevated perch in League Two but after a first half that saw the Cobblers dominate the opening exchanges and the visitors slowly come back into things it was goalless at the break.

Cue Bayo after a run of games without a goal to notch his fifteenth of the campaign and one in a similar mould to many of his others – a header from a Ben Tozer cross. The only difference with this one was that Tozer crossed with his feet and not with his hands from a long throw but either way it was the goal we needed to clinch a tight game.

We simply must back these good home results with performances on the road if we are to stay in the running for the top seven at the end of the season and with two games on the road scheduled next there’s a good chance to put that particular trait of our season right.

There has to be a mention for the fantastic Sixfields ground staff and the twenty or so volunteers that did a superb job of clearing the pitch and the surrounding area so that the game could go ahead. The snow affected all but three League Two games on Saturday and it’s a testament to those people that ours went ahead with a slice of the winning satisfaction going straight to them.

Now it’s all about the panic stations that surround the transfer window and Bayo is being talked about all over again. With a contract that’s up in the summer and the Cobblers boss talking in a way that suggests there will be departures over the next week or so there’s big speculation that Akinfenwa could be off on the next leg of his trail blazing journey across the Football League.

This has to be thought about from two perspectives- the clubs and the players’. The Cobblers simply cannot afford to let go a man that is not just a leading scorer but a figurehead of the club on and off the pitch if there is no plan to bring someone else in. I would argue that that for the price that a Bayo sale would bring, there is no-one that could offer what he does. The fee will be reduced because of the contract situation so is there really another alternative that would fill what would be a pretty gaping hole in the Town attack? Of course if silly money comes in then we may not have a choice but Mr Boothroyd needs to tread very carefully, even more so considering that a mid-table season could turn into a playoff campaign with the right run of results.

Looking from Bayo’s perspective I can’t see many moves in this division that would satisfy him. I would imagine that a move to League One at this stage in his career would be one that he wouldn’t want to turn down but in League Two there would surely be nothing better for him then to lead the team from his ‘second home’ into that division.

There would be life without the big man, of course there would, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be worrying our claret heads off over the coming few days, hoping that the window freezes shut early this year!

First comes (weather depending) that trip to Aldershot and maybe just one more chance to show the big man that his current team are good enough to carry him through to League One themselves.

Fingers crossed – on many fronts!

3-2 avoided as Nicholls earns dramatic point

Nicholls…stunning equaliser

The fear of the 3-2 result returned on Saturday afternoon as Burton Albion briefly threatened a fourth successive season of that particular score line haunting our fixture lists. Fortunately, or brilliantly based on the late equaliser from Alex Nicholls, this was to be a change of direction as the Cobblers earned a point and after coming back from 2-0 and 3-2 down we can count ourselves reasonably happy with the weekend activities.

The fact that we got to the point where we were two down, though, will grate with Aidy Boothroyd. This really was a game of two halves with the threat of Town falling to another hefty half time deficit against the Brewers very high after Calvin Zola’s opener that put us on the rack. Luckily for us, though, Zola was taken off soon after and the second half would be more of a battle.

Albion went two up on fifty five minutes and it did seem like game over with Billy Kee’s cross going in off Kelvin Langmead for 2-0. But almost immediately after the introduction of new loan signing Kemar Roofe, replacing Chris Hackett, things started to turn in the Cobblers’ favour with the West Brom man lifting the tempo.

Langmead headed in at the right end and it was game on. Suddenly the Cobblers were a different side and peppered the hosts’ box with waves of attack. The reward came when David Artell volleyed in a cross from the left. At that point it wouldn’t have seemed against us to go on and win the game but that 3-2 score line was to hover over us until a frantic finale.

That was thanks to Zander Diamond heading in with ten minutes to go to sink what looked like a powerful force coming from Aidy Boothroyd’s men. But there was one last twist in the tale. Alex Nicholls raced onto a through ball, brought it down well and sent a stunning chip over the home goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson to earn a well fought out draw. It was a genuine goal of the season candidate and a strike that will hopefully reinvigorate the early pace setter in the Cobblers’ leading scorer charts.

That sort of point is another of the type that we wouldn’t have picked up in the first half of last season and as long as we continue to rack results up I’ll be happy. It’s a toughie tomorrow evening at home to league leaders Gillingham but after they lost for the first time in the league on Saturday they’ll hopefully be wounded enough for us to continue a fine start to the home campaign.

This result knocks us down into the bottom half of the table but a decent result against the Gills would push us back up again with the league still in the process of taking shape. It should be another decent atmosphere under the Sixfields lights…a preview of that one to follow on Tuesday morning here!

For now, we catch our breaths after a dramatic Saturday afternoon at the Pirelli Stadium.

Burton Albion v Northampton Town: Match Preview

Burton Albion v Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, September 29th 2012

It feels like this season has been going on for a whole lot longer than eight league games, not because of any lack of match quality but because there’s been so much packed into these opening few weeks. Town have made a decent opening and sit ninth going into this weekend having briefly entered the top seven a couple of weeks ago following the 1-0 win at Dagenham.

A similar sort of performance to that night will be required on Saturday but it will be far from easy against a Burton Albion side that are a completely different proposition to the side that we beat by that same score line back in March.

Rowett Revolution…

Current Brewers boss Gary Rowett was only in temporary charge last time the clubs met in that relegation scrap a few months ago. The former Albion player dragged his side away from danger, though, and was rewarded in the summer after being handed the job on a full time basis. Despite a tough start to the season, Rowett has overseen three wins from the last four games and taken them to seventh place in the table as things stand.

Extra time woe…

Having fought their way past Sheffield United and Leicester City in the Capital One Cup, Albion took a two goal lead on Tuesday night at fellow League Two side Bradford City. But after Nahki Wells scored a late brace for the hosts, the game went into extra time and the Bantams struck again through Stephen Darby to end Burton’s interest in the competition.


Club Links…

Burton forward Adi Yussuf spent some time on trial with the Cobblers in the summer of 2011 but wasn’t taken on by then boss Gary Johnson, instead joining the Brewers a few weeks later.

Cobblers leading scorer for this season Alex Nicholls played fourteen times for Burton whilst on loan from Walsall in 2007 but wasn’t able to get on the score sheet during his time there.


Rooney…new face at the Pirelli

Team News…

Burton made two loan signings on Friday, both of whom will be available to play against the Cobblers. Winger Luke Rooney joined the Brewers on a month long loan from Swindon Town whilst Wigan Athletic central defender Rob Kiernan also signed on a similar deal. Albion are without defenders Marcus Holness and Nathan Stanton with hamstring and Achilles injuries respectively so Kiernan should go straight into the starting eleven. Also missing for the hosts are Chris Palmer and Jimmy Phillips.

The Cobblers will give Clive Platt a late fitness test after the striker missed last weekend’s draw with Chesterfield with a calf injury. Meanwhile, new loan midfielder Kemar Roofe will go straight into the squad for the trip to the Pirelli Stadium.


Previous Six Meetings…

20/03/12: Burton 0-1 Cobblers (League Two)

In a massive six pointer at the wrong end of League Two, the Cobblers scored an injury time winner through Kelvin Langmead to move a step closer to survival at the end of last season.

26/12/11: Cobblers 2-3 Burton (League Two)

On Boxing Day of last season there were two goals in two minutes at Sixfields as the Cobblers took the lead through on loan striker Saido Berahino before Cleveland Taylor equalised for the visitors seconds later. Michael Jacobs put Town back in front from the spot but after John Johnson was sent off on eighteen minutes it was an uphill struggle for the Cobblers and Chris Palmer levelled things on the hour. Justin Richards would eventually seal the win for his side with a late penalty to keep us in the bottom two.

05/04/11: Burton 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)

Guillem Bauza gave the Cobblers the lead at the Pirelli Stadium but Aaron Webster equalised for the hosts just before half time.

01/03/11: Cobblers 2-3 Burton (League Two)

Andrew Corbett, John McGrath and a Chris Dunn own goal had Burton three up at Sixfields in a disastrous first half for Town despite John Johnson’s late strike that gave us outside hope. Andy Holt netted just after the hour but it wasn’t enough and Albion went home with all three points.

30/01/10: Cobblers 1-1 Burton (League Two)

Future Cobblers striker Shaun Harrad scored early in the second half to put his side in front but the Cobblers earned a share of the spoils late on thanks to Andy Holt’s leveller.

29/08/09: Burton 3-2 Cobblers (League Two)

One of the final nails in the coffin of then Cobblers boss Stuart Gray as Burton scored three times in the first eleven minutes to all but end the match as a contest. Steve Guinan and Ryan Gilligan, with a penalty, tried in vain to get us back into the match in a much improved second half but the damage was well and truly done. Gray was sacked as Town boss just a couple of weeks later.


The Man in the Middle…

In charge this weekend will be Brendon Malone who has shown three red cards in five matches so far this season. Malone was the official for two Cobblers games last season, a 2-0 home defeat by Morecambe and a 3-2 Sixfields win over Bristol Rovers.



As I mentioned earlier, this is a completely different prospect to our last visit to the Pirelli but with Albion having gone to extra time on Tuesday coupled with a blank week for us, there could be something to pick up here. There’s been one 3-2 win for Burton in each of the last three seasons but I can’t see this one being as high scoring this time. 1-1