The perfect start

Taylor...first Cobblers goal

Taylor…first Cobblers goal

Northampton Town 3-0 Exeter City

Three win, seven goals, none conceded, six points, cup progress and a big name clash with Newcastle United drawn out of the hat. For the Cobblers in recent years, this represents nothing less than a dream start to the season. After years of false starts, new signings needing ‘time to gel’ and playing catch up with the rest of the division, we’ve finally begun with a flourish and it comes at, ironically, a time when everything off the field is at one of the most uncertain levels.

After a hard fought win at Bristol Rovers and easing past Blackpool this was another stern test and one in which the score line didn’t tell the whole story. Exeter have a fair bit about them this season and will no doubt be amongst the front runners in the playoff race so any time we can take three points and three goals from a side like this is fantastic. What’s so positive this season is that goals are coming from different places already and we’ve got even more energy going forwards than the decent side that finished the last campaign.

What the Cobblers finally seem to have (and I recognise the kiss of death potential here) is stability in a system, players who are making the it work and enough competition to really challenge each position whilst keeping a sense that we’re not overloaded with short term solutions. We’re playing without shackles, particularly at home, and there’s seems to be a real hunger around the squad.

For this one, Exeter will feel unlucky to lose as heavily as they did but the ruthless finishing that we’ve lacked in the past is now there with another three very different goals getting us over the line for a place in the very early leading pack in League Two.

The first was an absolute belter from Jason Taylor. Usually found breaking up attacks, providing the meat in the midfield sandwich and out muscling opposition, Taylor scored his first Cobblers goal, and what a beauty it was. The ball broke to the former Cheltenham man around twenty five yards out and the volley that he produced was heading into the top corner from the moment it left his boot.

That set the tide and soon it was two with Ryan Cresswell popping up with a trademark header before half time to put Town in control. There were some concerns at the break when Zander Diamond was taken off to be replaced by Rod McDonald but after the match it was confirmed that it was as a precaution with so many games coming up and McDonald would go on to play his part in a third straight clean sheet for the Cobblers.

After Alfie Potter missed a sitter following up from Lawson D’Ath’ s shot, Will Hoskins came close to halving the deficit for City but Adam Smith, returning in goal after being rested on Tuesday night, made a top drawer save. Had that gone in, the end result may well have looked different but it was the Cobblers who sealed the points in the final knockings.

Marc Richards, who had seen a couple of good chances go begging at Bristol and in this game, must be hugely relieved to be off the mark as he looks to top his goal scoring efforts from last season. It was a breakaway goal that closed the game out with Ricky Holmes racing down the right and crossing for Richards to calmly slot home.

It meant that the perfect week was completed in style and sends us to Barnet with spirit levels rocketing.

The Cobblers are in the groove.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

Travelling to Barnet on Tuesday night provides its own challenge with the Bees having lost both of their opening league games. They’ll be chomping at the bit to get off the mark and Martin Allen will have them hungry to get it right at the third attempt. It’s a shame we can’t bask in the glory of being fourth for a whole week…dare we dream of it getting even better?!

Wycombe, Leyton Orient, Portsmouth and Hartlepool join the Cobblers on six points with League Two boasting more teams with 100% records than the Championship and League One put together. All will be put to the test on Tuesday night with a full set of fixtures scheduled. Wycombe go to Morecambe, Orient are at home to Stevenage, Portsmouth are at Crawley and Hartlepool host Newport County.

Through a child’s eyes…

sixfields

Northampton Town 1-0 Exeter City

League Two

Saturday, August 30th 2014

We all remember our first game…it’s a rite of passage for everyone following the beautiful game and though we’ll always joke that we were made to go and that we’ll never forgive those who took us to The County Ground/Sixfields for the first time the truth is that the moment we stepped into a football ground for the first time was a pivotal moment in our childhood. I remember being in awe of the County Ground (yes, that was possible!) and its unique character (and characters that inhabited it), rendered speechless by the atmosphere and feeling a new sense of belonging.

I’m not sure if any of that happened on Saturday afternoon as my nephew, Harry, took his first ever steps inside Sixfields at the tender age of four but it was hard not to see the game through his innocent eyes – before the matches mean anything, before wall charts and rivalries, before favourite players and even before knowing what wins and losses mean. In all honesty, I was slightly envious!

No matter what the situation, nowadays a match day remains a stressful time – even five games into the season when defeats can be put to one side and you can say “it’ll be better once we’ve signed a couple of players.” Before the season started my wife asked when the first game was because she wanted to know “where my head would be” on Saturday afternoons. She had a point and you can sometimes not realise how much you are involved in supporting your team, especially when it’s from afar as is our situation.

Somehow having Harry with us on Saturday made the game that bit more relaxed. Seeing him looking around the stadium with wide eyes made me reminisce about those brief times at the County Ground when Efad Elad’s winding runs brought me back whenever there was a chance. Good times – before this footballing lark started to mean something and Saturdays were never the same again!

A proud Uncle moment indeed then as the Cobblers welcomed Exeter City, a side littered with injuries and off the pitch problems – this was set up for us to provide the little man with a memorable first game. Early on it looked exactly like that’s where it was heading with Chris Hackett being afforded all the time in the world on the right and linking up well with Ben Tozer to create some early chances that saw the restored Emile Sinclair and loan midfielder Joel Byrom have shots blocked.

Exeter weren’t about to lie down, though, and were playing to their strengths. They’ll likely be the smallest team to play at Sixfields this season until the end of season kids’ finals but utilised a slick passing game to try and prize apart the Cobblers defence. There wasn’t a lot for Matt Duke to do but as the half wore on Town became as disjointed as they looked in the second half against Shrewsbury last week.

John-Joe O’Toole remains a headache in midfield. Lining up as a holding man in the middle didn’t bear any fruit and often led to misplaced parts and frustration from both himself and from the stands. It’s not his position or his strength and the fact that he walks around the pitch with a slumped demeanour doesn’t help his public relations with the two sides of Sixfields that desperately want to see the man who scored fifteen times last season for Bristol Rovers appear here. Chris Wilder surely needs a rethink as to whether he plays him further forward or not at all from the start of games with O’Toole replaced with around twenty minutes to go in this one by the much more suited Ricky Ravenhill.

One man who was making more and more of an impression after the break was Kaid Mohammed. With Ivan Toney also now on the pitch, replacing Sinclair early in the second half, Mohammed was working the gaps provided by Toney’s runs and giving us a hugely needed spark from midfield. A Mohammed header led to Toney smacking the bar mid-way through the half as the Cobblers finally came alive.

Exeter were living on the edge and were relying on England under 20’s goalkeeper Christy Pym to keep them in the game. Pym was at his very best to keep out Toney again, Mohammed and Hackett and it looked as though we were about to be frustrated by a terrific young keeper who was giving a fine performance in the visitor’s goal.

But for the third time in four games there was a late, late twist when Ben Tozer’s long throw was flicked on twice and Marc Richards produced a bicycle kick that Toney himself would have been proud of that flew past Pym and into the net to the sound of relief from a home support not used to this kind of battling to the end spirit.

Exeter were beaten despite their very best efforts and the Cobblers reflect on more points salvaged from out of nowhere. That second half showed a new, vibrant side of Town and this is what we need to see more of, especially at home. The wide men Hackett and Mohammed are going to be crucial with central midfield the only real problem area as to how to fit in O’Toole whilst still giving sufficient cover to the back four.

The win leaves the Cobblers in eighth place with eight points and from the games we were dealt that’s not a bad return at all from a pretty hectic August. As things slow down a little for September we can take a breath between games (thankful for a bye in this week’s JPT First Round) and hopefully build as much space as possible between ourselves and that end of the table that “we’ll never go near again…”

Whatever happens, this was an afternoon not about what happened on the pitch but about a new Cobblers fan joining up and sitting through it all brilliantly. Through Harry’s eyes, this was all about seeing a live match and sharing in a pretty cool family moment – if he goes on to catch the Cobblers bug I hope he remembers this big moment but even if he never joins us in the stands again this was still one that will live in the memory of Uncle Dan.

Beware the wounded Grecian!

IMG_0588.JPGNorthampton Town v Exeter City
League Two
Saturday, August 29th 2014

Saturday’s game with Exeter City provides a realistic chance for the Cobblers to get back into some sort of stride after a late salvation against ten man Shrewsbury and Tuesday’s cup exit at Bournemouth. City have been under a transfer embargo during the summer which has only just been lifted and are without a win so far so on paper it’s a game we need to be looking for victory to stabilise some of the early promise we’ve shown.

But the Grecians possess one or two fine individual players (including Matt Grimes and Christy Pym who were called up to Aidy Boothroyd’s England Under 20s squad this week) and if they’re on their game and up for the fight of getting that first three points they will cause us problems, particularly if we start the game in a similar manner to the second half of last week’s draw. There’ll be no room for any complacency but the reality is that if we want to be challenging at the top end of the table then home games like this need to be won regularly.

The intriguing news on the team front this week has been Emile Sinclair’s transformation from being listed for loan last week to scoring last Saturday and putting in a good show at Bournemouth to being taken off the loan list following the striker’s rejection of a move to Cheltenham Town. Sinclair, to be fair to him, is battling for his place in the face of Ivan Toney’s emergence, Marc Richards’ decent start to his return and the new competition from the likes of David Moyo and Alex Nicholls – though the latter will be sent on loan himself next week it seems.

I would expect Danny Alfei to return to right back after shaking off his injury with Darren Carter also an option to come back into midfield. Just where Carter fits in is a big question. Joel Byrom was solid on his debut and you can’t see John-Joe O’Toole being dropped.

Exeter are likely to start with an unchanged team with Tisdale’s hand forced by a number of injuries to an already small squad. Jordan Moore-Taylor, Danny Butterfield, Tom Nichols, Jamie Reid and Christian Ribeiro are all missing at the moment so it’s set to be the same eleven that took to the field for the 1-1 draw with York City last weekend.

Despite all of that, we all know the Cobblers well enough to know that nothing’s ever that straight forward…

Second big night in Devon cuts the gap!

Morris...match winner

Morris…match winner

Exeter City 0-1 Northampton Town

League Two

Tuesday, March 11th 2014

It was no spectacle. There were no periods of intricate passing to inspire the hardy souls on the terraces. There was to be no end to end action fitting of the six pointer that this game clearly was. But all that matters, more than any of all of that by a country mile, is that the Cobblers came away from St. James’ Park with three of the most valuable points of any season.

This could well be the most significant week of the campaign – after three home game yielded seven points but frustratingly didn’t break down any gaps between ourselves and safety there was plenty to do but after a gutsy point at Scunthorpe United came this. It compares to previous relegation battle wins on Tuesday nights in the past such as those at Dagenham and Redbridge and Burton Albion and like Tim Robbins’ character, Andy Dufresne, in The Shawshank Redemption we seem to save our best grafting for the evenings during attempts at escape.

Last night was no difference and the Cobblers had to come through a severe test of their mettle before claiming their prize. Chris Wilder admitted that his side “weren’t at the races” in the first half and we could well have gone into the break chasing the game. David Wheeler wasted the Grecians’ best chance by shooting into the side netting early on but Town held firm despite not creating a lot at the other end and would have been grateful of the half time whistle to regroup.

It would take another Chris Wilder tweak to turn things in our favour. A few minutes after the restart, Ian Morris and Alan Connell replaced Brennan Dickenson and John Marquis. Morris has been another one of those players who has been completely rejuvenated under Wilder and his introduction now seems more of a positive move than it would have been just a few weeks ago.

It was the former Torquay midfielder who would end up shooting fresh life into not only our challenge but to that of his old employers who notched a crucial win themselves over Rochdale last night. Morris got on the end of a Chris Hackett cross to finish well and give his side something to really cling on to. Other results were also starting to turn in our favour which made the final half an hour or so that bit more crucial.

There was that feeling that something could still happen but this is a new and improved Cobblers rear guard that we can trust to defend a lead or, as it was on Saturday, a point. And hold out we did. 150 Cobblers fans celebrated, the players punched the air and, in homes around the country like mine, everyone wished that they could be in that terrace with the hardcore travelling army. The victory, and the gap closing to three points, would have made another big night in Devon much easier to travel home from.

Exeter themselves will now not only be glancing over their shoulder but shuddering in fear. A win last night would have taken them nine clear of the Cobblers but, as it is, they’re now just three away and with Town playing before them this weekend there could be huge pressure on their game at Newport County on Sunday. The Grecians have won just once in 2014 and if they didn’t feel in a relegation battle before they certainly do now!

For Wilder and the Cobblers it’s onwards to yet another crunch game this Saturday when Mansfield Town come to Sixfields for the first of four home games in the next few weeks. The Stags could now be dragged into it once again if we can take all three points that would pull them to within two points with the added bonus of next Tuesday’s game in hand against Rochdale to come.

It’s tantalising to have the chance to go level on points with Exeter on Saturday afternoon and that, as well as pulling in Mansfield again, should be motivation enough. Getting back above that line would be a huge psychological lift and as these sorts of victories keep rolling in the belief just keeps on growing and growing that we’ll make it out.

One of those days…

Blyth...another Cobblers goal

Blyth…another Cobblers goal

Northampton Town 1-2 Exeter City

League Two

Saturday, September 14th 2013

There are often at least one or two teams every week that feature strongly on radio phone ins and the like with the phrase “it was just one of those days”. For the Cobblers, one of those days (i.e. a game where you have so many chances only to inevitably lose at the death) came at exactly the wrong time and when we needed it the least.

It beggars belief how we managed to come away from Saturday’s game with no points with Exeter delighted at their smash and grab raid. I hold nothing against the Grecians for their tactics and when it comes down to it, they took their chances and we simply didn’t but it makes it no easier to comprehend how we’re not sitting here on seven points and instead are stuck on four.

Town had come out of the blocks on fire early on with a front two of Clive Platt, rejuvenated after last week’s goal, and Jacob Blyth with Roy O’Donovan switching to the left wing in place of the unfortunate Danny Emerton who dropped to the bench. We really took the game to the visitors and were rewarded after just five minutes when Platt took the ball down well and lobbed it into the path of Blyth. The Leicester loanee raced onto it and coolly slotted in past Artur Krysiak in the City goal.

It was no more than we deserved and the slick passing and movement created plenty more. Chris Hackett was back in the sort of form that saw him light up League Two last season and linked up well with former Exeter man Kevin Amankwaah on the right hand side. It was from an Amankwaah cross that Blyth almost made it two minutes after the goal before Platt scrambled the ball onto the bar in yet another big chance.

It was at this point that I started to think we might regret not taking the big chances and so it was that Exeter equalised from a corner ten minutes from the break when Scot Bennett got on the end of a corner to scrappily level things up completely against the run of play.

A big flash point came just before the break when Blyth was caught in the area by Bennett with a challenge that would have undoubtedly been punished with a free kick anywhere else on the pitch but that was waved on by referee Rob Lewis. Even so, we’d shown enough craft and guile before City’s equaliser to make us believe that this was the day that we would kick on from the slumber at the wrong end of the table.

How wrong we were.

On the hour came another huge opportunity when Joe Widdowson collected the ball on the left hand side and swung in a fine cross that Platt looked every bit like scoring from but he somehow managed to head the ball over the bar and into the North Stand. Platt admitted after the game that he should have scored and he was spot on. It was to be a key turning point.

The inevitable moment looked to have passed with a minute to go when former Cobbler Sam Parkin raced through and rounded Matt Duke but his shot was cleared brilliantly by Lee Collins. Again we were wrong if we thought that we were saved. In stoppage time, substitute David Wheeler collected the ball on the right and put in a pin point cross that was agonisingly headed in by John O’ Flynn, himself having just come off the bench.

That was that and Exeter had claimed a stunning victory and their first ever win at Sixfields in front of a stunned crowd of just over 4,000. It will do nothing to encourage more to come back through the turnstiles but we somehow have to take some positives from the way we played.

The shape of the team looked good, particularly in the first half with Chris Hackett’s return to form adding a dimension to the side so lacking so far. Platt and Blyth up front seemed to have a good understanding and could yet form a good partnership if given time to flourish with the Exeter centre halves standing off them for the long balls up top.

It still niggles that we failed to take the chances, though, and we’re still missing the leadership of Kelvin Langmead at the back. In the middle of the park I still haven’t seen enough from Darren Carter to convince me that he’s the answer whilst Gary Deegan came good only in spells and needs to show his bite and experience throughout rather than just in patches.

To say this was a frustrating afternoon is perhaps the understatement of our season so far. It’s one of those that could well have seen us go in 3-0 up at half-time and maybe with the luck and good form towards the end of last season at Sixfields it could well have happened.

At the end of the day we have no more points than we started with, though, and having ‘one of those days’ just doesn’t seem to cut it when you’re stuck at the wrong end of the table. We need to channel the positives from this match and move forwards to Mansfield next week and yet another attempt at ending this dismal away form.

One day this will all come together…

Northampton Town v Exeter City: Match Preview

sixfieldsNorthampton Town v Exeter City

League Two

Saturday, September 14th 2013

The Cobblers welcome high flying Exeter City to Sixfields tomorrow afternoon looking to build on what was eventually a decent point against Scunthorpe last week. The battle back from a goal down to earn a 1-1 draw wasn’t the greatest comeback in football history but what it did do was restore some stability to a stumbling start.

Had we lost that game it would have been five defeats from six league games but as it was we managed to pull at least something out of the bag and Aidy Boothroyd will be hoping that his side can make it three points in another big game at Sixfields on Saturday.

Former Cobblers loan player Paul Tisdale is seven years into his tenure with the Grecians (and is the second longest serving manager in England) with his spell at the club seeing him lead the club from the Conference to League One and then back to League Two again with last season’s tenth place finish coming after spending a lot of the season in the playoff places or higher.

They’ve made a good start to this season, though, and sit fourth after collecting three wins and two draws from their opening six games. Despite losing last season’s leading scorer Jamie Cureton they appear to be setting their stall out once again to trouble the main contenders for promotion. Having never won at Sixfields since it opened in 1994 they’ll be thinking that there’s no better time than now to do just that but the Cobblers have to start raking in more points to avoid being cast adrift already.

 

Team News…

The Cobblers are waiting on the fitness of Lee Morris who could be available again after his recent injury but Lewis Hornby suffered a further setback this week when it was revealed that he has had a relapse of a back injury that’s kept him out of all of Town’s games so far this season. Pakistani international defender Kashif Siddiqi signed on a professional deal this week and could go into the squad whilst Jacob Blyth extended his loan deal until November 2nd. Kelvin Langmead and Alex Nicholls are still long term absentees.

Exeter striker John O’Flynn could return for the match after missing out on the last couple of weeks with a hamstring problem and that will be assessed before kick-off. Meanwhile, Jimmy Keohane and David Wheeler will battle for places in the starting line-up after doing well from the bench last weekend.

 

Nicholls...goal in this fixture last season.

Nicholls…goal in this fixture last season.

Previous Six Meetings…

02/03/13: Exeter 3-0 Cobblers (League Two)

The Cobblers’ away day woes towards the end of last season went on as Lee Nicholls fumbled a corner into his own net before Jamie Cureton and Jake Gosling sealed another dismal outing for Aidy Boothroyd’s men.

13/10/12: Cobblers 3-0 Exeter (League Two)

The first meeting between the sides in twelve years ended with a comfortable victory for the Cobblers. Bayo Akinfenwa volleyed us in front before Kelvin Langmead got on the end of an Emyr Huws cross to make it two before half-time. Alex Nicholls sealed the victory late in the day to extend Exeter’s poor history at Sixfields.

18/03/00: Cobblers 2-1 Exeter (Division Three)

A big win for Town en route to promotion in 2000. Richard Green put us in front before Carlo Corazzin made it two before the break. Nerves were jangling as Darren Rowbotham halved the deficit mid-way through the second but Town held on for a precious three points.

23/11/99: Exeter 1-2 Cobblers (Division Three)

Jason Rees had Exeter in front after just seven minutes from the spot but goals from Carlo Corazzin and Ian Hendon turned the game around as the Cobblers came home from Devon with all the points.

25/11/97: Cobblers 2-1 Exeter (FA Cup First Round Replay)

The Cobblers progressed to a Second Round tie against Basingstoke  and eventually a Third Round exit at Leicester City thanks to this replay win at Sixfields. Roy Hunter opened the scoring early on but it looked like Billy Clarke’s equaliser would send the tie to extra time until Carl Heggs netted the winner with four minutes to go.

15/11/97: Exeter 1-1 Cobblers (FA Cup First Round)

A few days earlier, Darren Rowbotham had gave City the lead at St. James’ Park but Roy Hunter earned the replay in which the Cobblers would eventually progress.

 

The man in the middle…

The referee for Exeter’s visit is Robert Lewis. Lewis has shown ten yellow cards in three games so far this season and last took charge of a Cobblers game in the 3-1 win over Fleetwood Town back in January of this year. His last Exeter game was a 2-0 defeat against Port Vale last October.

 

Prediction…

Exeter are going well and have taken eleven points from a possible eighteen but nine of those points have been gathered at home. On the road they’ve drawn two and lost one and hopefully their shocking record at Sixfields (five Cobblers wins and one draw in six meetings since we moved from the County Ground) goes on tomorrow afternoon…I’ll go for a much needed Cobblers win by the odd goal. 2-1.

Fan Feature: Exeter City

exeterWith Exeter City in town this weekend, the latest Fan Feature comes via Keiran Hutchins who gives us the low down on all things Grecian…

After a disappointing fall away from the playoff places last season, Exeter would have spent the summer planning another go at an attack on the top seven. It was their first season back in League Two following relegation and Paul Tisdale looked to be on the way to taking his side back into the running for an immediate return but his side fell at the last with six defeats in the final seven games. Keiran discusses this and more below. You can follow him on twitter at @ecfc32

A tenth place finish last season…were you expecting more or was that a decent finish?

Honestly I was expecting more, especially as with 10 games left, we looked more than comfortable in the top 3. A horrendous run of form at the end ruined it for us and dreaming what might have been.

Paul Tisdale is the second longest serving manager in England behind Arsene Wenger with more than seven years under his belt…what’s the secret to his longevity in amongst the cut and thrust nature of the game these days?

Honestly I do not know his secret! I believe it’s because he knows how to keep the board happy, and has constantly done well (apart from the relegation)

How are the new signings settling in? Any big moves in January?

The new signings seem to be settling in well. Not sure whether we will bring anyone in January. A RB would be a start though, seeing as you lot stole our RB!

Who’s going to score your goals now that Jamie Cureton has left? How is Sam Parkin looking?

Now Curo’s gone, we’ll be looking at Alan Gow and John O’Flynn, along with midfielders chipping in. Parkin is looking like a shrewd signing by Tisdale this season. Knows what to do with the ball at his feet or in the air.

What are your ambitions for this season?

I’d like us to push for the play-offs, but realistically can see us just missing out, again.

And, finally, a prediction for the game on Saturday?

Cobblers 1-1 Grecians

Big thanks to Keiran for that!

 

Exeter City Links…

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/exetercityfc

Twitter: @OfficialECFC https://twitter.com/OfficialECFC

Forum: http://www.exeweb.com/forums/

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

BBC Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/teams/exeter-city

Local News section: http://www.thisisexeter.co.uk/exetercity

City bring Cobblers back to earth

Cureton...20th goal of the season

Cureton…20th goal of the season

Exeter City 3-0 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, March 2nd 2013

It seems that every few weeks the Cobblers are prone to a result such as this one. Falling behind has more often than not spelt disaster for Town as a promotion challenge hangs in the balance. Only twice have we come from behind to win in League Two this season and it’s a problem that we’re going to need to address should we end up in the playoffs.

I shouldn’t need to say that it would be a superb achievement if Aidy Boothroyd were to lead his side into the end of season lottery after a fine rebuilding job and results like this can be reasonably swept under the carpet should home form continue as it is. But the problem that will occur if we do end up in the two legged semi-final is that sometimes we’re extremely vulnerable away from home when we go behind.

Exeter are potential playoff opponents and it typifies our season that we beat the Grecians 3-0 at home and went on to lose to them 3-0 away this weekend. It was a performance bereft of the energy and battling abilities shown in the recent run of positive results but at the same time you have to hand it to Exeter for taking full advantage and capitalising on the opportunity in front of them – a win that took them above us into fourth place.

There was calamity all over the place as first Lee Nicholls dropped the ball into his own net for the opening goal, a rare mistake from the on loan keeper, and a distinct lack of marking for Jamie Cureton’s twentieth goal of the season on the hour mark. Jake Gosling rounded it off for his team and completed a comfortable day for them.

The journey home would have been a long one for players and fans alike with both pondering a massively missed opportunity as results came in from across the rest of League Two. The top three of Gillingham, Port Vale and Burton Albion had all dropped points whilst Southend and Rotherham had played out a useful draw and Fleetwood were beaten at Wycombe. That left the major benefactors as Exeter and Cheltenham Town, with the Rubies holding off AFC Wimbledon to win 2-1 at Whaddon Road.

A clutch of games in hand are still to be played around us so it’s not likely to balance out completely for a couple of weeks yet so we have to hope that this one is another that we can forget about quickly by keeping up the winning run at Sixfields with Accrington Stanley visiting this weekend.

Exeter City v Northampton Town: Match Preview

StJamesExeterExeter City v Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, February 2nd 2013

The season is about to hit the final furlong. Just ten games will remain after the Cobblers complete their trip to St. James Park and Exeter City this afternoon and the only guarantee is that we’ll still at least be in a playoff place when the final whistle blows. City sit tantalisingly three points behind the Cobblers with a goal difference two goals behind us. Victory for the Grecians would push them back above us in the table so it’s all set for a big encounter down in Devon.

Grecians back up to sixth after impressive win…

Paul Tisdale’s men moved back into sixth place in League Two after seeing off high flying Port Vale at Vale Park on Tuesday night. City took the lead through Jamie Cureton – the veteran’s nineteenth goal of the season – and finished the job through Danny Coles with both goals coming in the first half. The victory made it three wins from four for our hosts this afternoon and they’ll be looking to continue their surge back towards the top three.

 

Team News…

Exeter will be without Mark Molesley who begins a three match suspension following his red card in Tuesday night’s victory against Port Vale. Alan Gow is still not fit enough to return from an ankle injury but John O’Flynn is back in contention.

For the Cobblers, Manny Oyeleke returned to parent club Brentford this week but Chris Hackett should return after missing out on Tuesday’s win against Bristol Rovers. Joe Widdowson is available after suspension but will have to battle Lee Collins for the left back berth.

 

Davies...former Cobbler

Davies…former Cobbler

Club Links…

As well as Exeter boss Paul Tisdale having a small link to the Cobblers, midfielder Aaron Davies also made his first return to the club earlier this season after being released by AidyBoothroyd in the summer. Davies was only at Sixfields for one season but fell out of favour with new boss Boothroyd in the second half of the campaign.

Guillem Bauza is another Grecians player to have recently been with Town with the striker scoring four times in ten appearances for the Cobblers in 2011, helping us to League Two survival.

Cobblers midfielder Chris Hackett was on loan with Exeter last season, making five appearances for the club.

 

Previous Six Meetings…

13/10/12: Cobblers 3-0 Exeter (League Two)

The first meeting between the sides in twelve years ends with a comfortable victory for the Cobblers. Bayo Akinfenwa volleyed us in front before Kelvin Langmead got on the end of an Emyr Huws cross to make it two before half-time. Alex Nicholls sealed the victory late in the day to extend Exeter’s poor history at Sixfields.

18/03/00: Cobblers 2-1 Exeter (Division Three)

A big win for Town en route to promotion in 2000. Richard Green put us in front before Carlo Corazzin made it two before the break. Nerves were jangling as Darren Rowbotham halved the deficit mid-way through the second but Town held on for a precious three points.

23/11/99: Exeter 1-2 Cobblers (Division Three)

Jason Rees had Exeter in front after just seven minutes from the spot but goals from Carlo Corazzin and Ian Hendon turned the game around as the Cobblers came home from Devon with all the points.

25/11/97: Cobblers 2-1 Exeter (FA Cup First Round Replay)

The Cobblers progressed to a Second Round tie against Basingstoke  and eventually a Third Round exit at Leicester City thanks to this replay win at Sixfields. Roy Hunter opened the scoring early on but it looked like Billy Clarke’s equaliser would send the tie to extra time until Carl Heggs netted the winner with four minutes to go.

15/11/97: Exeter 1-1 Cobblers (FA Cup First Round)

A few days earlier, Darren Rowbotham had gave City the lead at St. James’ Park but Roy Hunter earned the replay in which the Cobblers would eventually progress.

19/04/97: Cobblers 4-1 Exeter (Division Three)

Comfortable Sixfields win for Town as goals from Sean Parrish, Mark Cooper (2) and John Gayle put us on course for the playoffs and that famous day at Wembley. Darren Rowbotham scored from the spot as City scored a late consolation.

 

The man in the middle…

At the centre of things at St. James Park will be Tim Robinson. Robinson was last in charge of a Cobblers match back in December in the 2-0 home win over Aldershot Town. He also refereed Exeter against the Shots in August, a game which City won 2-1.

 

Prediction…

The recent run of fortunes means that this one becomes a game in which we’d be pretty happy with a point. Exeter are coming into the game full of confidence after that win over Port Vale on Tuesday night but I think we can nick something from this. 2-2.

Pretty perfect afternoon as Town find form…

Bayo – another goal

Northampton Town 3-0 Exeter City

League Two

Saturday, October 13th 2012

The score line of this afternoon’s game shows a three goal difference between the Cobblers and Exeter and though it didn’t appear to be a ‘3-0 game’ it’s a welcome return to league form for Aidy Boothroyd’s men. The Grecians came to Sixfields with a record of four wins from five away from home but an all-round performance that’s been lacking so far this season was produced by Town in a game that saw a fine debut from Manchester City loanee Emyr Huws.

There were elements of good fortune about the victory with Exeter having good chances at key moments (before the first and third Cobblers goals to be exact) but overall Town deserved the three points. Exeter haven’t visited Sixfields in twelve years and won’t want to be hurrying back any time soon, particularly as their dismal run in the town was extended to eleven trips without a win.

After a good opening from the Cobblers, Exeter had a clear chance through John O’Flynn but after he put a shot wide of Lee Nicholl’s goal he was made to pay just a couple of minutes later as Bayo Akinfenwa continued his rich vein of form. The big man has picked up since being thrust back into the forward line in recent weeks and produced a moment of quality by bringing the ball down and volleying it home to put us in front and to net his sixth of the season.

The man taking centre stage, though, would be Huws with the midfielder turning it on in his first senior start, terrorising the City defence just before half time before producing a pin point cross onto the head of Kelvin Langmead. With Clive Platt returning to the starting line up to partner Bayo up front, there was perhaps a loss of concentration from the visitor’s defence as they focused too much on the obvious big men and missed the goal machine Cobblers captain!

2-0 going into the break then but I still held a few nerves thanks to some uneven performances from Town so far this season that’s sometimes seen us produce one good half per game.

But fortunately it wasn’t to be the usual fare of a nervy finish. Exeter came back into the game for the first twenty minutes or so and put pressure on Nicholls in the Cobblers goal. Two fine saves from Jamie Cureton later, though, and we were well on course.

After the second stop from the veteran front man, Town once again went up the other end to score with Langmead again picked out from a free kick, nodding the ball into the path of Alex Nicholls who notched his seventh of the season.

And that was that…a well fought out game that produced a top drawer result for the Cobblers. Exeter came to Town sitting pretty in fourth place in League Two but left with nothing, giving us a much needed confidence boost. It’s odd to think that we are only one point better off after twelve games than we were at this stage last season but it was a year ago when things really started to go sour.

With the current crop you just don’t get the idea that we’ll be losing game after game at any point over the season. We will, of course, get beat but there always appears to be that bit more belief within the squad and in the management team that fills you with confidence that we can pull out results like this on our day.

It’s Barnet next on Friday night and Cobblers law says that with the Bees without a win all season we’ll be the first to fall victim to them but if we can match the quality shown today there’s no reason why we can’t turn that on its head and pick up another three points and go into next weekend back in a prime position.

For now, it’s a job well done and a nice feeling to be back in the top half of League Two. We can enjoy that until the trip to Underhill, a fixture that usually provides some sort of talking point. With Edgar Davids teasing a return to action for the hosts that night we’ll hopefully be able to welcome him to League Two as only we can!

In other quick news, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Area Quarter Final draw paired us with Leyton Orient this morning which was pretty decent. Nothing against Orient but I would much prefer us to be playing a League One outfit at home than a League Two side anywhere based on the last couple of rounds and it’s a good chance to progress at least.

And speaking of cup draws, it’s the FA Cup First Round (Prop-ah!) draw next Saturday (20th) so with no game on that day for Town we can pencil that into our afternoons with plenty of potentially interesting pairings there.

I’ll hopefully be back in the week for a one off feature and then on Thursday/Friday morning with the Barnet preview…see you there!