Lead so nearly slips again but Town hold on!

Northampton Town 3-2 Bristol Rovers

League Two

Tuesday, March 6th 2012

It’s fair to say that the Cobblers are keeping us right on the edge of our seats in this most dramatic of run-ins to the season. Such was the feeling of inevitability when Cheltenham Town recovered from two down against us on Saturday, many Cobblers fans still weren’t sitting completely comfortably at half-time last night even though the gap this time was three goals rather than two and we were playing at home against a supposedly inferior opposition to that faced at the weekend.

Bayo Akinfenwa had earlier continued his renaissance period with his fourth and fifth goals in four outings before Kelvin Langmead added a third inside twenty minutes as we stormed into a half-time lead that should usually have had most of the 4,000 or so home fans sitting comfortably. But after a season that’s seen so many winnable situations turned into draws and defeats nothing is ever taken for granted and once again we were left on the edge of our seats, whether it be inside the stadium or around the country as panicking tweets prayed for the referee to just (hash tag) blowyourwhistle!

For Rovers forced their way back into the game, showing more steel under Mark McGhee these days. With a quarter of the game to go, Craig Stanley made it 3-1 and it was squeaky bum time all around.

With results fluctuating around the country for the other sides in relegation danger, including leads for Plymouth and Hereford (The Bulls would eventually let a lead slip of their own to draw with another troubled side in Macclesfield Town), it was even more crucial that we hold on to three points.

When Rovers were awarded a spot kick with five minutes to go you could hear the deflation and panic setting in and Lee Brown duly converted for 3-2. In a position like I was in, not being there and relying solely on a Twitter feed for information it was agonising and I’m sure there were many in the same position. Those in the ground saw Byron Webster come on for Michael Jacobs late on but thankfully no further goal mouth action as mercifully the game was brought to an end!

Three absolutely huge points had been earned from a dominant opening and dogged middle section of the game but almost lost in a frantic conclusion where defensive issues appeared to come to the fore again.

Many will also look at Bayo’s substitution for Toni Silva ten minutes before the first Rovers goal as a turning point. You can see Aidy’s point of view with some a huge schedule in March but it seemed to turn the game in the favour of the Gas with the Cobblers losing a focal point and holding player. Luckily we came away having not suffered the same fate as Saturday and the relegation scrap looks a lot more favourable for it.

Town are off the bottom and are now just a point from safety again with two games in hand – one of which is of course that massive one at Dagenham in six days’ time. Before that, Aldershot visit on Saturday having just been beaten for the first time in seven games. They had previously won the six games prior to the visit to Torquay last night and will be no mugs.

Just what it’s going to take for us to feel comfortable going into half-time I really don’t know. Maybe on Saturday we can try going in 4-0 and see what happens from there…though until the final whistle of any game we’re certain to be in bits whatever is happening!

Deep sigh of relief everyone…