Over the line amidst confusion and drama!


In the end it wasn’t a powerful surge over the line, it wasn’t a clean cut win to take us into League One and it wasn’t entirely clear until a couple of minutes after the full time whistle what on earth was going in. But Saturday afternoon’s target was reached despite the Cobblers dropping a two goal lead to a Bristol Rovers side that may well join us in League One next season. Northampton Town are promoted and however we made it, it’s simply a remarkable achievement.

Just as Leicester City won’t care a jot in how they make it to what will surely be an unbelievable Premier League title win, Town fans should rejoice that the job is done. When we look back in years to come, all that we’ll see is the final points total – up to 88 with 15 still to play for – and our name at the top of the table and after nearly losing the club in November it surely goes down as one of the all-time great seasons in our history.

It did look as though we might do things the easy way on Saturday as Nicky Adams headed in mid-way through the first half against Rovers before the unsung Sam Hoskins made it two just after the break. Cue champagne being popped and celebrations starting as the countdown began to a full time whistle that would confirm ascension. But the Gas had other ideas and still wanted to ruin the party. The prolific Matt Taylor headed home with fifteen minutes to go to shake things up and Ellis Harrison stunned Sixfields into near silence by levelling things up in the dying minutes.

By many calculations we’d have to wait another week with Accrington Stanley winning and Plymouth Argyle standing to earn a point against Wimbledon but then a helping hand from Bayo Akinfenwa of all people saw Wimbledon win it at Home Park and the gap widen by another crucial point that put promotion back on. No-one in or out of the ground seemed to know what it meant but the pitch invasion and party could begin once the club officially announced that we were back in League One.

Cue the players emerging in the West Stand to celebrate amongst the supporters and that in itself is a picture that sums up the season – the squad together in celebration with the supporters who stuck by them as they played for weeks on no wages, worried and campaigned together in the autumn and who deserve every bit of praise. I’ve used many superlatives over the last few months about the character of this squad, this management team and our wonderful supporters and Saturday was a time to just revel in the glory of something that just doesn’t happen much in a lifetime of supporting a football team.

All that’s left to do now is to clinch the title and if we better Oxford United’s result on Saturday (Town travel to Exeter while the U’s host Luton Town) then the trophy is ours with four games to go. The Cobblers are also protecting an unbeaten run that stretches back to before the turn of the year and Chris Wilder certainly won’t be letting up on the pursuit of ending this season on even more of a high.

What a season. What a club!

Edging closer…

After months of jubilation, high octane football and disbelief at a season like we’ve not seen in a generation, the Cobblers are now within one victory of confirming promotion. Though the last few weeks have seen us crawl toward the finish line rather than burst through it, nothing at all can be taken away from what’s happening at the football club that could easily have been no more.

There’s a chance that the big P could be placed next to our name in the league table this Saturday when our old friends from Bristol Rovers pay a visit to the newly revamped Sixfields which now includes seats in the East Stand once more. There should be a carnival atmosphere around the place and it’s a day where you just want to be involved in one way or another.

For the players, it’s a game that’s the most difficult of those left this season but it’s one that they should hopefully rise to. With uncertainty last weekend in the 2-2 draw with Notts County there were perhaps some nerves around with everyone so desperate to confirm League One football as early as possible. But this weekend we know what we need to do. Win and we’re up. It doesn’t get much more tantalising than that in the build up to a game.

For the fans, a step back is needed slightly from getting anywhere near a level of frustration. The last few games have seen us draw plenty but of course the incredible form of early 2016 wasn’t going to carry on forever and if you don’t win then a draw is plenty good enough in our position.

There’s plenty of history between the Cobblers and Bristol Rovers of course and many are looking to the game for the sort of feeling felt during THAT May evening in 1998. I’ve always said that level of atmosphere will never be felt again at Sixfields but after nearly going out of business and losing our club there is no doubt that if that final whistle goes with Town having secured promotion the emotions will be coming very, very close.

Here’s to getting over that line!

Foot on the Gas


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!


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.

A master stroke or a risk too far? Analysing the signing of John-Joe O’Toole…


The Cobblers’ summer recruitment took a drastic turn yesterday afternoon when John-Joe O’Toole completed his move to Sixfields with the signing providing plenty of food for thought and debate. In footballing terms, it’s a fantastic move for the club on the pitch to bring in a player on a free transfer who hit fifteen goals from midfield for a relegated side last season but when you get directed to past interviews taken from the end of last season, for example, you see that there’s an element of risk involved.

O’Toole clearly believes that he’s below his level of talent given that interview whilst at the end of his time at Bristol Rovers but that can be interpreted in two ways – either he’s a desperately passionate player who just wants to play at the highest level he can or he’s a disruptive influence that will be more trouble than he’s worth. There’s also a rebute here that shows the midfielder in a better light and in one that he argues that his statement was out of context.

What I do think is that any problems O’Toole does have in being a team player and positively influencing team mates need harnessing and Chris Wilder should be a good enough character to do just that. At twenty five, O’Toole still has time to develop as a player on and off the pitch and it’s one of those situations where you just hope that Wilder uses his experience to get the very best out of his big summer signing.

It’s another three year contract so there’s an immediate trust placed in the player by the Town boss. That in itself should speak to O’Toole and hopefully mean that he starts off with a clean slate. The new environment can only help his desire on the pitch and if the Cobblers are riding high in the league in the early months there should be no problems with him reaching his full potential.

The signing may now put a halt to any more bids for strikers by the Cobblers management with Wilder apparently cooling on bringing in a big front man. Instead, he’s likely to wait on the summer progress of Alex Nicholls and place trust in O’Toole’s ability in adding goals from midfield whilst also continuing to work on how to link up experience and youth in Marc Richards and Ivan Toney.

A right back and a left back (Evan Horwood is close to confirming his signing) are all that’s left to finish off a summer shopping list that Wilder hopes to have finished by the time the first friendly takes place on July 12th.

On paper, things are looking pretty good…now to put it all together.

Foot on the gas as Town scrap out draw


Northampton Town 0-0 Bristol Rovers

League Two

Saturday, March 1st 2014

The Cobblers are a point closer to salvation after a Saturday afternoon of blood and thunder at Sixfields that saw both sides go away with a hard fought point. Visitors Bristol Rovers will be happier with the draw which keeps them six points clear of the Cobblers but in all honesty they showed enough here to prove that they’re more than good enough to not only survive but to push on for a good league finish.

John Ward’s side only occasionally looked as though they may be breached by a tireless Cobblers side who just couldn’t quite break them down. It was, though, from our point of view a decent point given that results finally went for us and another show of solidarity against tough opposition.

This was the first time I’ve seen the Cobblers since Chris Wilder has been in place and though it’s unfortunate that a rare outing for me ended goalless the sheer will to block shots, the dogged running and the much improved quality gave more hope than ever before that we can escape the drop.

With Alan Connell in for John Marquis up front, there was hope of greater creativity but Connell never really looked like orchestrating things as he’d done at Torquay and in the closing periods of Tuesday night’s win over Southend United. He’s clearly a talent but Rovers didn’t give him the space to make things happen which could well prove the difference between them and others in the relegation battle in the coming weeks.

Emile Sinclair had the first real effort on goal, forcing Steve Mildenhall into a comfortable save but for the most part the two sides cancelled each other out until the break. There was a sense that the game could go either way with Rovers happy to break at the right moments and bringing with them a real threat once they got into that final third.

Early in the second half, things opened up a little more with the Gas’ Michael Smith hitting his own post. A flash point followed soon after with Zander Diamond appearing to be barged over by Mildenhall in front of the North Stand. Initially it looked like a strange decision to then award a free kick to the visitors after Mildenhall was booked but it seemed like a decision had already been awarded before the collision.

The first of two key saves followed with Matt Duke somehow keeping out David Clarkson at point blank range after he got on the end of a low cross from the right hand side – Duke getting right back into form after a couple of weeks of shakiness with this right up there with some of his other match saving stops from the archive of this season.

At the other end, Mildenhall then all but matched Duke as Brennan Dickenson’s deflected shot was pushed onto the post by the Rovers keeper. Substitute Marquis couldn’t take advantage as the ball fell to him and the big chance was gone.

From then on it always felt like the game would end goalless and that in itself is a testament to Wilder’s new side – a few months ago we would have undoubtedly lost that game or at the very, very least been just waiting for the visitors to rifle in a late winner.

The resolve and grit shown on Saturday was a good way to end a week in which most people’s wishes of seven points from three home games was achieved. Ahead of a daunting trip to Scunthorpe United at the weekend it was crucial that we end the mini run of home fixtures with a bit of belief in place. There’s no two ways about it – it’s one of the toughest games that we could face at this moment in time but from what we’ve seen in the last week or so there’s no reason why we can’t go and upset the apple cart and in the process put even more of a dent in the now four point gap to safety.

What we’ve seen in these three games is a return to exactly what we’ve needed since around November time – a team up for a scrap, players ready to put their bodies on the line and an atmosphere where we believe in our football club again. If those three things continue to happen in the final thirteen games then we’ll surely be playing League Two football again come August.

Northampton Town v Bristol Rovers: Match Preview

sixfieldsNorthampton Town v Bristol Rovers

League Two

Saturday, March 1st 2014

As the joy of back to back wins for the Cobblers sinks in, as does the realisation that there’s still a big, big job to do. Bristol Rovers are the third side to visit Sixfields this week and they bring with them their own upward momentum in the face of relegation trouble. The Gas are unbeaten in four with good draws at home to Oxford and away at Scunthorpe book ending victories over Cheltenham Town and Burton Albion and will really test Town’s nerve and new found spirit.

The point at Scunthorpe on Tuesday night was particularly impressive for John Ward’s men with Steven Gillespie’s late equaliser earning a draw against a team who were, at that point, holding on to top spot in League Two. On the same night, the Cobblers were hanging on to a similarly impressive result against Southend United and it’s the same hunger needed as we go head to head with Rovers.

Despite their good form, the visitors are still only six points away from the Cobblers meaning that a win would guarantee us to move within three of safety. Tricky away games for Accrington, Wycombe and Mansfield will hopefully keep at least a couple of them down within touching distance but what’s most important is that we get our own jobs done and carry on this winning feeling.

Taking the foot of the gas is not an option…

Team News…

The Cobblers have no new injury worries for the game with Joe Widdowson likely to miss out again through an ankle injury. Gregor Robertson came in for him on Tuesday night and should continue to deputise. The only other change may see Alan Connell pushing for a start following another good showing from the bench against Southend. Lee Collins, Lewis Hornby, Kelvin Langmead and Alex Nicholls are out for the season.

Rovers will be without Alan Gow after the forward was stretchered off in Tuesday’s draw with Scunthorpe United with an ankle injury while Tom Lockyer is battling to be fit after suffering from a broken nose against the Iron.

Previous Six Meetings…

31/08/13: Bristol Rovers 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)

Back in August, the Cobblers were beaten by Tom Lockyer’s goal after just two minutes at the Memorial Stadium. Town striker Roy O’Donovan was sent off in stoppage time for a second bookable offense to compound another miserable away day.

26/02/13: Cobblers 1-0 Bristol Rovers (League Two)

In the midst of a superb home run in the second half of last season, Ben Harding’s late winner was enough to keep us rolling on towards the playoffs.

06/10/12: Bristol Rovers 3-1 Cobblers (League Two)

The Gas had not won a home game up until the Cobblers visited in early October last season. Anthony Charles was sent off within twenty five minutes and that set the tone for a disappointing day. Tom Eaves put Rovers in front just after the break and Gary Kenneth made it two just after. Bayo Akinfenwa headed in from a Ben Tozer throw in to give us hope but Oliver Norburn sealed that first home success for the hosts.

06/03/12: Cobblers 3-2 Bristol Rovers (League Two)

A massive win for the Cobblers towards League Two survival in 2011/12. Bayo Akinfenwa scored twice in the opening ten minutes before Kelvin Langmead put us three up before half time. Craig Stanley and Lee Brown, from the spot, made it a nervy finish but Town held on for three valuable points.

16/08/11: Bristol Rovers 2-1 Cobblers (League Two)

The Cobblers suffered their first defeat of that season at the Memorial Stadium as Jo Kuffour and Matt Harrold scored either side of a Bayo Akinfenwa strike to earn Rovers all the points at the Memorial Stadium.

10/04/09: Bristol Rovers 1-0 Cobblers (League One)

A Good Friday meeting between the clubs was settled by Jo Kuffour’s goal with twenty minutes to play in a season that would eventually see the Cobblers relegated from League One.

The man in the middle…

The official for this one is Mick Russell who last took charge of the Cobblers in the home leg of last season’s playoff semi-final against Cheltenham Town at Sixfields. His last Rovers game was a 2-0 defeat for the Gas as Chesterfield in March 2013. Russell was at the centre of controversy around a year ago after showing Sheffield Wednesday’s Jeremy Helan two yellow cards in a match against Huddersfield Town but failed to send him off.


Three wins in a row? Dare we dream? It’s a much more difficult game than it looks on paper with Rovers on just as good a run of form as Town. With the home crowd behind us again, though, we can do it – I’ll go for a tense 1-0 victory.

Copy and Paste…

O' Donovan...this week's red card winner...

O’ Donovan…this week’s red card winner…

Bristol Rovers 1-0 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, August 31st 2013

I’m starting to think I should be just copying and pasting my away day reports from now on. It’s three defeats in three now on the road, all of which featured no goals for the Cobblers and all of which saw Town players take an early bath. Roy O’Donovan’s summed up another frustrating afternoon and another in a long line of defeats at what is now becoming a real bogey ground for the Cobblers.

Gone are the memories of John Gayle’s joyful lob and a certain tannoy announcer’s over excitement in singing about his side’s trip to Wembley before the greatest game ever to happen at Sixfields ruined his, and all associated with Rovers’ week. Those memories will, of course, never be truly forgotten but now I think we’ll be even more delighted that Rovers will be when their new ground at UWE is ready to go!

Things started out in shambolic fashion with a defence seemingly in tatters thanks to Joe Widdowson’s absence through injury. Nobody seemed to understand where they were playing because after Tom Locker headed in from a Lee Brown cross two minutes in the defenders changed their positions to the ones they should have started in. Now is not the time to give home sides the advantage from the get go and the only blessing was that there was time to pull something out of the bag.

Chris Hackett was back and appeared to be the most potent threat with Ishmel Demontagnac on the other wing having another afternoon typical of him – good in bursts but always a red card waiting to happen.  Our obligatory sending off, though, would fall to a more unlikely suspect later on.

Town did get a foothold in the game and Clive Platt, restored in place of Jacob Blyth (scorer of two in three games in case you’ve forgotten!) did his best to do something but it always had the feeling of another ‘one of those afternoons’ that we’re having far too many of these days.

Platt divides opinion but when you start in place of a man who briefly looked like firing fresh hope into our forward line by blasting us to our only win of the season you have to give it your all to keep your place. The fact that Blyth was dropped to the bench for anyone baffles me. The fact that it was Platt just made no sense at all apart from giving me a growing sense of Aidy Boothroyd’s stubbornness. I don’t think Platt deserves all of the criticism he gets but the fans need to see more from him than he’s shown in his year and a bit here so far.

Back to Saturday and Hackett came closest for Town late on with a free kick that rattled the post and it was another bad luck story that we just can’t afford right now. We can complain all we like about hitting the post in the last minute but there were 89 minutes before that where we didn’t do enough and it’s getting too repetitive on the road.

O’Donovan jumping in front of a throw in late on saw him pick up a second yellow card and was just silly and when you’re chasing a game for a point. Blame also must go to those on the bench that watched him do it right in front of them on the touchline but it summed up everyone’s feelings at the end of another deflating afternoon.

So what now? The transfer window comes to a close on Monday and whether we will see any more movement in or out remains to be seen. The only one out I see happening is Dave Artell but ironically he fits the mould of experienced centre back that we might just need right now! We cannot wait until Kelvin Langmead comes back and say that everything will be OK when the skipper is here.

We also can’t afford to wait for Alex Nicholls or reply on him to be the twenty goal a season striker he threatened to be when he comes back sometime near the New Year. Blyth needs to be taken on a season long loan and perhaps we also need someone else to supplement the work rate of O’Donovan.

When I look at other sides’ line ups in League Two I usually see plenty of danger where they can unlock us and at the moment I’m unfortunately not seeing a lot of that a month into our season. I’m not sure if the funding is there or not be we need to know either way rather than getting ourselves wrapped up in the deadline day drama and expecting something that won’t come.

I’ll hopefully be around Monday to keep popping up with some updates so stay tuned…hopefully by the time we make the trip to MK Dons on Tuesday for the lovely Johnstone’s Paint Trophy we could be seeing one or two new faces to give us hope that it’s not all doom and gloom!

Bristol Rovers v Northampton Town: Match Preview

Bristol-Rovers--Memorial-Stadium-General_1058488Bristol Rovers v Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, August 31st 2013

There will be no room for sentiment in the manager’s rooms this Saturday as old friends John Ward and Aidy Boothroyd go head to head with both in desperate need of the points to drag their clubs away from the early slackers at the bottom end of League Two. Rovers picked up their first three points of the season last weekend with a 3-2 victory over York City at the Memorial Stadium and leapfrogged the Cobblers who are still stuck on three points with just one win in the opening four.

Ward and Boothroyd both had successful time at Watford with Ward working under Graham Taylor in the mid-eighties and Boothroyd promoted with the Hornets in 2006. Boothroyd then appointed Ward as his assistant manager at Colchester United in 2009 before leaving the U’s at the end of the season to join Coventry City.

Ward is now into his second spell in charge of Bristol Rovers having been appointed in December of last year, steering the club from relegation candidates to mid-table safety by the end of the campaign with 42 points collected from 23 games during his time at the club in the second half of the season. That’s set the bar high for this time around but a long injury list has meant that it’s been a slow start for his side.

A 2-1 defeat at Exeter on the opening day was followed by a goalless draw with Scunthorpe and a 1-0 loss at Newport, leaving the Gas with just one point from the opening three games. But last weekend saw them pick up a first three points of the season and they’ll be looking to make it back to back victories tomorrow afternoon.

As for the Cobblers, it’s been a hit and miss opening to the season and the away day blues are far from over. Two defeats in two away games have done little to assure us that last season’s problems are going away on the road and we really need to do something different to get it right. As old pals go head to head, it’s set to be a crunch game as the first month of the 2013/14 season comes to a close.


Team News…

Rovers striker Matt Harrold returns to the squad after recovering from a groin injury but Eliot Richards is out with a hamstring problem. Ollie Clarke, Seanan Clucas and Jim Paterson are all still missing.

The Cobblers have Chris Hackett back after he served a one match ban last weekend whilst Clive Platt will be pushing for a starting place having returned to the side from the bench in recent weeks. Lewis Hornby is still missing but Matt Heath returns after injury. Friday afternoon saw Town sign midfielder Matty Harriott on a contract until the end of the season and he goes straight into the squad.


Previous Six Meetings…

26/02/13: Cobblers 1-0 Bristol Rovers (League Two)

In the midst of a superb home run in the second half of last season, Ben Harding’s late winner was enough to keep us rolling on towards the playoffs.

06/10/12: Bristol Rovers 3-1 Cobblers (League Two)

The Gas had not won a home game up until the Cobblers visited in early October last season. Anthony Charles was sent off within twenty five minutes and that set the tone for a disappointing day. Tom Eaves put Rovers in front just after the break and Gary Kenneth made it two just after. Bayo Akinfenwa headed in from a Ben Tozer throw in to give us hope but Oliver Norburn sealed that first home success for the hosts.

06/03/12: Cobblers 3-2 Bristol Rovers (League Two)

A massive win for the Cobblers towards League Two survival in 2011/12. Bayo Akinfenwa scored twice in the opening ten minutes before Kelvin Langmead put us three up before half time. Craig Stanley and Lee Brown, from the spot, made it a nervy finish but Town held on for three valuable points.

16/08/11: Bristol Rovers 2-1 Cobblers (League Two)

The Cobblers suffered their first defeat of that season at the Memorial Stadium as Jo Kuffour and Matt Harrold scored either side of a Bayo Akinfenwa strike to earn Rovers all the points at the Memorial Stadium.

10/04/09: Bristol Rovers 1-0 Cobblers (League One)

A Good Friday meeting between the clubs was settled by Jo Kuffour’s goal with twenty minutes to play in a season that would eventually see the Cobblers relegated from League One.

28/12/08: Cobblers 0-0 Bristol Rovers (League One)

Tame stalemate just after Christmas in 2008, part of a sequence that saw the Cobblers win just once in eight games at the end of the calendar year.


The man in the middle…

Mark Haywood is the man in the middle having just overseen the Morecambe v Newcastle League Cup tie earlier this week. He last officiated a Cobblers game in the 3-0 defeat to Leyton Orient in the JPT last December. His last Rovers game was a their 4-0 reverse at Dagenham and Redbridge in May 2012.



With the home form dealt a huge blow last weekend and with four defeats from five in all competitions we cannot afford another one so pressure is on. We’re not usually lucky at the Memorial Stadium but hopefully we can get something at least. 1-1


From the Opposition…

Brian Seymour-Smith, the Bristol Rovers Supporter’s Club Director, gave us the views from the Rovers camp ahead of this weekend’s game. Check it out here.

Fan Feature: Bristol Rovers

Bristol_RoversBristol Rovers (a) Fan Feature

This week, Brian Seymour-Smith  – the Bristol Rovers Supporter’s Club Director, agreed to give us the lowdown of all things Gas ahead of the big game tomorrow.

Bristol Rovers have long been called a ‘sleeping giant’, a title which more and more clubs in League Two are claiming each season. The Gas have been waiting to make their attack since being relegated back to the basement division in 2011. Two seasons ago, they finished in an underwhelming 13th place despite being many people’s favourites for at least a playoff place but last season saw them struggling even more. The very real possibility of dropping out of the league altogether meant that Mark McGee was shown the door and John Ward returned to the club to turn around their fortunes. Brian says that there are similarities between his club’s top man and Aidy Boothroyd and that hopes are high that he can build on last season’s success.

“John Ward and Aidy Boothroyd are two of the most experienced managers in this league at this level and fully understand what it takes to gain promotion for their respective clubs,” he says,  “Like Aidy, John Ward he has already proved in the past that he can bring success to clubs, in our case Bristol Rovers, and I know he will do it again. Bristol is a massive city with a massive support for the Pirates. Expectations are high and John has all the skills required to meet those expectations both on and off the field.”

Off the pitch, Rovers have faced a long fight to move to a new home at the University of the West of England. Brian updates us on the progress of the new home:

“We are now at the Judicial Review Period and this is scheduled to come to a conclusion during September. This is the final phase where objections can be raised, but on technicalities only. We are extremely confident that we have followed all procedures correctly and for the sake of the club, players and our supporters, we sincerely hope we can move forward without delay at the earliest possible moment.”

As the club awaits news on that development, they will be hoping that some new additions over the summer coupled with a solid grounding from last season’s key men can lift them to new heights that will be fitting of a brand new stadium and a brighter future. Brian says,

“We signed several players in the summer. These included players such as John Joe O’Toole, Steve Mildenhall and Mark McChrystal who were with us on loan, and we are delighted that they and several other players re-signed for us are becoming part of an extremely talented and, in particular, young squad. Our biggest worry has been a massive injury list but the good news is many of these players are now starting to come back and I firmly believe that once they are all back our success on the field will continue to improve still further.”

Rovers picked up their first win of the season at the fourth time of asking last weekend and are off the mark with four points having previously collected a solitary point at home to Scunthorpe.

“As with Northampton, the most important thing at this stage of the season is points on the board,” Brian says, “Performance comes later as confidence grows. But without doubt it’s been a massive boost (to pick up three points against York), particularly with our JPT match against our main rivals Bristol City scheduled for Wednesday. Both this and the Northampton game are matches we can and want to win.”

And finally, in terms of a score prediction, Brian can see more Memorial Stadium misery for the Cobblers: 

“Rovers 2-0”


Bristol Rovers Links:

Official Website: http://www.bristolrovers.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bristol-Rovers-FC/108190212535056?fref=ts

Twitter: @Official_BRFC

Forum: http://www.brfcforum.co.uk/

Blogs: http://lifesagas-bristolrovers.blogspot.co.uk/

Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_Rovers_F.C.

BBC Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/teams/bristol-rovers

Local News section: http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/bristolrovers

Seven in a row at the Fortress!

Harding...late winner

Harding…late winner

Northampton Town 1-0 Bristol Rovers

League Two

Tuesday, February 26th 2013

You know what? It might just be time to start actually believing in our heart of hearts that this Cobblers side is on course for some end of season excitement. For too long this season I’ve felt that we’ve been hovering in the top ten and in a way waiting for reality to hit and mid-table obscurity to draw us into its stomach.

Yet time and again our team have galvanised themselves, fought to the bitter end and become a side that are not only difficult to beat but one that’s resolute and determined. I would say that it started back in December when the Cobblers, on a run of three defeats on the bounce and looking down and out at Torquay, salvaged a draw through Kelvin Langmead’s rifling volley.

If we do end up with an unthinkable promotion come the end of the season we can look back at that point, and the three collected late on last night, as a big turning point. Town went on to win the next three and begin an as yet unbroken sequence of seven straight home wins. Away form was holding us back until another late salvo at Southend two weeks ago earned a huge three points with Langmead again the hero.

After battling to a draw at Wimbledon and home success number six on the bounce against Plymouth it was up to Bristol Rovers to try and stop us last night. They came very close to holding out for a goalless draw and could even have won it on any other night but the launching of one Ben Tozer throw and the scrambling home of the ball past Steve Mildenhall by Ben Harding won it for the Cobblers.

This run of results really makes you think that the fates of football are really behind us at the moment and, more realistically, that this group of players are playing for each other and together as a unit more than any Town side we’ve seen over the last few years.

Say what you like (and many do) about Aidy Boothroyd and his style of play. If I’m honest, I would much rather us be a team that wins games and gets promoted rather than one that tries to play fancy football above their level. I’ve said it before, Ian Atkins and his brand of football made me fall in love with the game and with Northampton Town Football Club. To say his approach was Route One was the understatement of the Nineties but did anyone complain when John Frain scored the only goal of the game at Wembley against Swansea City?

Don’t get me wrong, I would love us to play attractive football AND go up but in League Two it’s very rare to be able to do that. That’s what makes it such a tough league and you have to fight and scrap your way out of it. And the fact that we’re being called ‘bullies’ by some League Two rivals and ‘ugly’ by many masks a simple fact that if you look deeper than the big men up front you will find craft, application, youthful spirit, experienced heads, a safe pair of hands, consistency and flair.

It annoys me when other teams complain about coming away from Sixfields feeling that they’ve been fouled off the park rather than taking a step back and realising that the reason that they lost was because they couldn’t score as many as we did!

But none of that is going to bother anyone of a Cobblers persuasion if one of the names starting League One next season is that of Northampton Town. The games are running out and we’re suddenly seven points clear of eighth place and still just a point off the top three and the impressive looking Burton Albion.

Win ugly, win comfortably, I really don’t care. The key word is ‘win’ and if our beloved Cobblers continue to grind those wins out then I don’t think anyone of us will!