Rotherham United 3-1 Northampton Town
Saturday, February 2nd 2013
I remember when I used to travel away via Sixfields Travel Club in the early 2000’s with the Cobblers, a group of merry men at the back of the coach expectant and care free as we set out to new adventures to the exotic Grimsbys, Oldhams and Hulls of this world. There was a time when every away day seemed to end in the immortal line from the front of the coach announcements as we pulled back into Sixfields:
“Thank you for travelling with Sixfields Travel Club – Once again we come home pointless.”
I can imagine that the ‘pointless’ line is being used a lot once again as the Cobblers come back from another trip with nothing to show, meaning that we drop out of the playoff places almost as suddenly as we announced our arrival in them.
Rotherham needed the win badly because of a recent dip in form that took them out of the top seven and Steve Evans will be delighted that his side is now back above the Cobblers in the clutch of teams gunning for any position from third place down.
After a bright opening during which Jake Robinson’s swerving effort smashed a post and Lee Nicholls produced a good save from Kayode Odejayi at the other end, the home side stamped their mark on the game to take the lead just before the break. Ben Harding’s challenge on Mark Bradley in the area was deemed to be enough to warrant a penalty and Daniel Nardiello stroked home to the left of Nicholls in the Cobblers goal. The penalty, from TV pictures looked harsh with Harding appearing to take at least a bit of the ball and the Rotherham midfielder making more than enough of the challenge but any protests were in vain and the home side went into half-time in front.
The Cobblers put up a spirited fight in the second half but ended up on the end of yet another away defeat thanks to another quick fire double of goals from the Millers. Ben Pringle, perhaps the outstanding Rotherham player from the Sixfields clash earlier in the season, hit a low shot with fifteen minutes to go that beat Nicholls again before David Noble sealed it soon after by working his way through the Town defence far too easily. Clarke Carlisle’s late goal was nothing more than a consolation and the Cobblers were once again travelling home pointless.
This away form, victory at Aldershot aside, is a massive cause for frustration. I won’t say it’s a cause for ‘concern’ because that would imply that it’s having effects that put our season in danger of collapse. The truth as it stands at the moment is that we’re good enough at home to be a top half side with the occasional look at the playoffs but as long as the away form remains as it is we’ll only be looking on with envious eyes again come May when teams that finish 4th-7th battle it out for a place in League One.
In the grand scheme of things the two defeats this week, if separated from one another at different times during the season, aren’t ones that we would get overly upset about due to the promotion chasing tags of our conquerors and we simply have to find a way of learning from some of the things that appear to be going wrong as soon as we pull out of Upton Way on the team coach.
I don’t buy that we’re not ‘mentally strong’ away from home. The players are the same, the pitch is pretty much the same size but the results are ridiculously opposite. If we are to live the dreams of the last month or so for real and if we are to add a memorable chapter to our history then we need to learn that Sixfields is not the only place that we can sit down to write it.