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.

Artell checks in after controversial Vale departure

Artell the latest new signing

As has been rumoured all weekend, defender David Artell has signed for the Cobblers this afternoon having left Port Vale despite the fact that he only joined them a few weeks ago. With the club still in administration, they had reissued contracts to all of the new faces that had arrived in the summer plus all of those who had been offered new terms. But Artell, who led Crewe to Wembley and a playoff final victory at the end of last season, declined the new terms and walked away to join the Cobblers who had previously been interested in him earlier in the summer.

It’s not the nicest way to solve the central defensive problem that has been plaguing the Cobblers since the departure of Clarke Carlisle at the end of last season but it’s one that gives us a proven leader and some genuine experience at this level. I’m sure Vale fans will be chomping at the bit to give him a nice ‘welcome’ when we meet in late October at Sixfields and that’s something he’ll have to deal with. Putting myself in Vale fan’s shoes I would be just as angry as they are if someone walked out on us so it’s fair enough but it’s something we have to live with and someone who I’m sure we’ll get behind once the season kicks off with the League Cup game at home to Cardiff tomorrow evening.

Artell’s past includes spells at Rotherham United, where he began his career, Shrewsbury Town, Mansfield Town, Chester and Morecambe before he joined Crewe in 2010 and helped them to promotion last season. Whilst at Crewe there’s been the odd bust up with Dario Gradi and an on the pitch bust up with his own keeper, Steve Phillips, so that’s going to need to be channelled by Aidy Boothroyd into positive energy.

It’s a tough one but finally we do have that defender we’ve been craving for a fair few weeks and is pretty much the final piece of the puzzle for Boothroyd ahead of tomorrow night.

All that’s left to do now is to get this season rocking and rolling!