League Two Season Preview: Part Three

With just two days to go until the new season, here’s Part Three of the League Two Season Preview, including a closer look at the Cobblers as well as Mansfield, MK Dons, Morecambe, Newport and Notts County.

Mansfield Town

Last season…

Much was made of Mansfield at the start of last season and with Steve Evans at the helm bringing in plenty of League Two experience there was every reason to think that the Stags would be up among the challengers for promotion. Evans had brought in the likes of Zander Diamond, David Mirfin and Bobby Olejnik at the start of the summer and had his own experience to draw on for an attack on the top three.

Despite this, Town didn’t really get going properly until December when they would embark on a run of one defeat in sixteen including a three game winning run in late January/early February. Then came the shock resignation of Evans with the club just two points away from the top three with Evans moving to League One Peterborough United, an apparent dream job for the Scotsman.

David Flitcroft was identified as the man to finish the job at Field Mill and he joined from fellow playoff chasers Swindon but Evans’ departure clearly hit the squad hard as they wouldn’t win again until 14 April, a 1-0 success of Chesterfield that reinvigorated their playoff hopes. But one win and two draws, including a final day 1-1 draw at home to Crawley wasn’t enough to finish in the top seven thanks to results elsewhere.


In: Matt Preston (Swindon), Neal Bishop (Scunthorpe), Craig Davies (Oldham), Otis Khan (Yeovil), Tyler Walker (Nottingham Forest)

Out: Rhys Bennett (Peterborough), George Taft (Cambridge), Johnny Hunt (Stevenage), Joel Byrom (Stevenage), Paul Digby (Forest Green)

Promotion Odds…



David Flitcroft begins his first full season as Stags boss with the clear aim of going one better than last season and at least making it into the playoffs. Early signs are good with the exciting signings of Tyler Walker from Nottingham Forest and Otis Khan from Yeovil and they look in good shape to be one of the challengers again this season.

One vital piece of outgoing business may yet hinder Town’s chances, though, with prolific striker Danny Rose, who hit seventeen in all competitions last season, handing in a transfer request this week amidst interest from former boss Evans at Peterborough United. If they can get a deal done and a replacement in during the final week of the window then they should still have enough to be up there in the table so for now I’m going with another playoff push for the Stags.

MK Dons

Last season…

There won’t be a lot of fond memories being handed down to the grandchildren from a wretched League One campaign for MK Dons. Starting off as outside bets for the playoffs, MK went from manager to manager and looked a shadow of their tag as contenders.

Despite a September win over AFC Wimbledon, form was concerning and Robbie Neilson was beginning to come under increased pressure. Between the end of September and the end of Neilson’s reign, MK fans only saw their side win on two occasions, one of which included a remarkable nine man win at home to Peterborough United. Neilson was sent packing after a 2-1 defeat at Sixfields in January and former academy coach and England under 16s manager Dan Micciche was the surprise appointment to try and steer them away from the relegation zone.

Micciche would last less than three months after seeing his side win just three times in sixteen outings. The season was all but over at that stage with just three games to go and the club six points from safety and Keith Millen stepped up from assistant manager to see through the inevitable relegation. As MK try to turn their tide back in the right direction they now turn to long serving Exeter boss Paul Tisdale and it’ll be interesting to see how he sets about his business as his new club.


In: Mitch Hancox (Macclesfield), Ryan Watson (Barnet), Jordan Moore-Taylor (Exeter), Ryan Harley (Exeter), Robbie Simpson (Exeter), Jordan Houghton (Chelsea), Mathieu Baudry (Doncaster), Baily Cargill (Unattached)

Out: Ed Upson (Bristol Rovers), Scott Wootton (Plymouth)

Promotion Odds…



Paul Tisdale wasted little time in bringing in three of his trusted Exeter playing staff in Jordan Moore-Taylor, Ryan Harley and Robbie Simpson to add to his squad which should be a level above League Two should they all stick together. Tisdale is the type of manager that will be excited by a project like rebuilding MK and should be relishing the fact that he no longer has his hands tied by financial pressures.

Anything less than promotion will be seen as a failure and that’s surely what Tisdale and his new team will finish with.


Last season…

Another season of battling the odds under Jim Bentley so nearly saw The Shrimps relegated but right at the death they managed to keep their heads just, and only just, above water to send Barnet down to the National League on a dramatic final day of the season.

A 2-1 opening day win against Cheltenham Town showed nothing of what was to come and Bentley’s men would win just four more times before Christmas. Poor form continued to mean that they were dicing with death for the entire season and after beating Exeter 2-1 in mid-March they would slowly see Barnet close in on them in the relegation battle thanks to a number of dropped points in the last knockings of the campaign.

They would need a point on the last day of the season and duly got it on a nerve wracking afternoon at Coventry. Barnet won their game 3-0 but it wasn’t enough to catch Morecambe on goal difference, giving the Shrimps their salvation.


In: James Sinclair (Unattached), Andrew Tutte (Bury), Jason Oswell (Stockport), Zak Mills (Grimsby), Rhys Oates (Hartlepool), Liam Mandeville (Doncaster), Mark Halstead (Southport), Jordan Cranston (Cheltenham)

Out: Aaron McGowan (Hamilton Academical)

Promotion Odds…



It’s again going to be tough for the Shrimps to break out of the pack at the bottom of the table, particularly as talisman Kevin Ellison turns forty by the end of August. They’ve brought in some decent experience including Andrew Tutte from Bury, a consistent performer at this level. Jason Oswell is one to watch having scored twenty nine times in the National League North for Stockport County last season and Jim Bentley will be desperately hoping that form continues in league football.

Bentley will be sure to get the best out of what he has again but it looks like another relegation battle to me.

Newport County

Last season…

A season that exceeded many expectations at Newport with a superb FA Cup run and a small tilt at getting into the top seven. Mike Flynn did an excellent job at getting the most out of his players once again as the Exiles finished in an impressive eleventh place in League Two.

The first three games of the season were all away games thanks to the Rodney Parade pitch being re-laid but County picked up five points from those three to give themselves a good start to the campaign. Inconsistency dogged them through the early months but the fact that wins were being racked up in good number meant that they were never in any danger of being dragged into the battle at the bottom end of League Two.

County would be just five points from the playoffs following a 2-0 win at Yeovil in March but a four game winless run put paid to any realistic ambitions of reaching the top seven. Back to back victories in April, though, steadied the ship and a final day draw at Carlisle earned them their final place in eleventh.

Away from the league, County would earn national recognition thanks to their fine FA Cup run that saw them beat Walsall, Cambridge and Championship side Leeds United en route to a plum tie with Spurs. They so nearly pulled off an incredible upset at Rodney Parade thanks to Padraig Amond’s goal but Harry Kane levelled with eight minutes to go to take the tie back to Wembley, where Spurs finally sealed the victory but only by a 2-0 score line that in no way disgraced Flynn’s men.

So a good league finish, a cup run and a Wembley appearance – not bad at all!


In: Keanu Marsh-Brown (Forest Green), Charlie Cooper (Forest Green), Fraser Franks (Stevenage), Tyreeq Bakinson (Bristol City)

Out: Ben Tozer (Cheltenham), Frank Nouble (Colchester)

Promotion Odds…



The problem you have with punching so high one season is that it’s difficult to match the following year and Newport could well fall into that category. Transfer activity has been fairly limited so far but the capture of the exciting Keanu Marsh-Brown from league rivals Forest Green Rovers should add a new level of creativity to their play.

Without a cup run distraction they may go well but it will be still be tough to reproduce the form of last season. I’m only giving them a shot at mid-table security again this time around.

Northampton Town

Last season…

Where do we start? From the dourness of Justin Edinburgh to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s constant tinkering and mind blowing starting line ups, the season was an absolute disaster and produced some of the worst performances from a Cobblers team that we’d ever seen.

There was even some mild optimism at the start of the season but Edinburgh lost his first four games of the season included a morale sapping 4-1 defeat at Peterborough which was the final straw and he was shown the exit before September could even get going. Hasselbaink was brought in under a lot of fanfare and started well but a 6-0 home defeat to Bristol Rovers highlighted the deficiencies in the squad. The plan was to try and keep in touch with those outside the drop zone by the time the January transfer window came around and there was brief relief thanks to a three game winning run at the start of 2018.

But everything slowly unravelled for Hasselbaink as baffling tactics and players playing completely out of position led to a divide between the fans and manager. A 2-1 home defeat to Gillingham was the height of the mess and the narrow score line masked an absolutely horrendous Tuesday night outing. Time was running out in the battle for survival but it looked like we’d left it far too late when Hasselbaink mirrored Edinburgh’s exit after defeat to the Posh.

Dean Austin tried hard to turn things around and instilled a sense of fight and belief among the squad that we’d not seen all season. A 3-2 win at Bury and a 2-0 success at home to Plymouth gave us real hope that we could pull off a miraculous escape but everything evaporated thanks to Walsall’s last minute winner at the Bescot Stadium that all put sent us packing to League Two barring a miracle score line against Oldham on the final day. A 2-2 draw with the Latics took them down with us but the consolation would come from Austin being appointed full time thanks to the fight he gave the club in the final few weeks of a torrid season.


In: Andy Williams (Doncaster), Junior Morias (Peterborough), Hakeem Odoffin (Wolves), Lewis Ward (Reading)

Out: Richard O’Donnell (Bradford), Joe Bunney (Blackpool)

Promotion Odds…



It’s always difficult to predict your own team but the Cobblers could do well now that we seem to finally have a manager leading the way with a passion that rubs off on his players. The summer has seen Town going for quality over quantity in the transfer market with Austin not keen on breaking up a squad and starting again. The fact that he earnt the player’s respect at the end of last season gave him the chance to send them away over the summer knowing exactly what was expected of them and that should help us be much more combative this time around.

Once Junior Morias is fit we should have a great striker on our hands and Lewis Ward looks a safe pair of hands in goal. If we keep the squad fit we should pose most teams problems and compete for at least a playoff place.

Notts County

Last season…

County were the front runners early on in League Two last season. After losing their opening game, Kevin Nolan’s men won eight of their next nine games to accrue 25 points from 10 games and see them top the table. A 3-1 defeat at Mansfield finally ended their terrific run but the Magpies would stay right in contention through the autumn. A late penalty in the New Year’s Day victory over Port Vale put them in second place ahead of the second half of the season.

It was here that the league season began to get interrupted by progress in the FA Cup where County saw off Championship side Brentford to set up a Fourth Round tie with Premier League Swansea City at Meadow Lane. Back to back league defeats preceded that glamour game but the Magpies pulled off an excellent 1-1 draw to take the Swans back to the Liberty Stadium. The cup run would end in a dramatic 8-1 loss in Wales so it was back to the league for the final push for the top three.

A pivotal 1-0 loss at Accrington at the start of April looked to have knocked the stuffing out of their chances of automatic promotion and though they hit back with three straight wins, Jamille Matt’s stoppage time winner against them for Grimsby in the penultimate game meant that County had to settle for the playoffs.

Coventry City were the opponents for the semi-finals and a solid 1-1 draw at the Ricoh there was plenty of hope of reaching the Wembley showpiece. But a stunning away performance from the Sky Blues at Meadow Lane saw them win 4-1 and consign Nolan’s side to another season in League Two.


In: Kristian Dennis (Chesterfield), Andy Kellett (Wigan), Tom Crawford (Chester), Kane Hemmings (Oxford), Will Patching (Manchester City), Ben Hall (Brighton), David Vaughan (Nottingham Forest), Enzio Boldewijn (Crawley), Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain (Portsmouth)

Out: Jonathan Forte (Exeter), Carl Dickinson (Yeovil), Michael O’Connor (Lincoln), Adam Collin (Carlisle), Nathan Thomas (Sheff Utd), Nicky Hunt (Crewe)

Promotion Odds…



Kevin Nolan will have surely learned many lessons along the way to the playoffs last season and should come back with a renewed sense that this could be County’s year and the season that will come to define his early years as a league manager. Kristian Dennis brings with him an eye for goal that had him scoring regularly for Chesterfield despite their relegation and David Vaughan, signed from across the river at Nottingham Forest, could be that gem of experience they need. Enzio Boldewijn is another who can excite the Meadow Lane faithful after signing from Crawley for a six-figure fee.

County have the backing, squad and manager to really challenge again and should be challenging for promotion again come May,


Rod+McDonald+Northampton+Town+v+Birmingham+lXl6kUPquCRlIt’s happened. After weeks of three points being packed into our points bag, the Cobblers are top of League Two as this incredible form continues to show no sign of letting up thanks to a comfortable victory over a Morecambe side who showed little resistence after going a goal behind. This is fast becoming one of those seasons that goes down in folklore and with Town now eleven points clear of fourth spot even a horrible run of form at some point in the remaining nineteen games shouldn’t derail us enough to stop a promotion challenge by the time we get to the final furlong.

There really is something special about this group of players and they showed on Saturday a new side to themselves. Having been beaten at MK Dons on Tuesday in a replay that could have set us up against Chelsea, you’d forgive them for letting it play on their minds but instead it was a determined Cobblers side that took to the field looking to clear those cobwebs in the only way they know how.

The fifth win in a row and tenth in eleven league games looked all but wrapped up by half time thanks to James Collins sweeping home a second in two games since joining from Shrewsbury on the half hour mark and John-Joe O’Toole deflecting in Ricky Holmes’ cross shot. Collins was quiet for most of the game but he’s someone that can have an impact with one moment in a game and such was the case here. O’Toole’s renaissance season goes on meanwhile – who would have imagined that he’d be a shoe in for a starting berth week in, week out when he was being offered around back in August.

Another to completely turn around public opinion is Rod McDonald. At the start of the season, McDonald was being shown up for his rawness and inexperience but since coming in to cover injuries has forced Ryan Cresswell out of the side and offered that bit of pace at the back that was missing. His header at the back post sealed this win a few minutes after the break, showing another new threat to his game at the other end.

Morecambe pulled one back when the bustling Kevin Ellison forced the ball to break to Paul Mullin who finished well to put a few doubts in our minds but this Town side knows how to see out games and snuffed out any further chances.

With Plymouth and Bristol Rovers drawing at the Memorial Stadium, the result gives us this beauty of a picture…


We go into a couple of week’s break now with scheduled opponents Oxford involved in the FA Cup next weekend but the pressure is on Plymouth going into their game at home to Wycombe which will mean they will have played two games more than us by the time we host York in two weeks’ time.

That particular race for top spot is a huge bonus with the gap on fourth place the one to watch in the coming weeks. It really is mind blowing after the genuine thought that we were going to our last games watching the Cobblers in their current form back in November. Once again, as superlatives run out, we march on and on and on.



Stepping up…

Hoskins...another big goal

Hoskins…another big goal

Morecambe 2-4 Northampton Town

While all around us continues to frustrate with the takeover now well into the period of due diligence and past yet another deadline date given by the powers that be, the Cobblers are at least making inroads into clawing back into the early group of pace setters in League Two. Wherever the next weeks or months take us, the results of the team are something to cling on to. Just as the Dagenham defeat a couple of weeks back was the catalyst for many to speak out against the owners, back to back wins following that have done a job of just about buying them time and keeping things sweet (ish).

Saturday was a huge away performance and showed again that on any given day anyone can beat anyone in this division. It’s far from a shock result of course but Morecambe were playing with a confidence coming into the game with four straight wins in all competitions ahead of welcoming the Cobblers.

Full credit must go to Chris Wilder for moulding a team together in the midst of all this takeover talk and it was a particularly impressive success on Saturday because of the absence of Marc Richards. In his place, Dominic Calvert-Lewin put in a good show and rounded his afternoon off with the killer fourth goal at a time when we could well have wobbled thanks to the home side pulling things back to 3-1.

It was great to see Lawson D’Ath getting back in the goals with his first of the season before Sam Hoskins continued his good run of form by netting his second in two games. Joe Byrom’s free kick looked to have completely ended the game as a contest but there’s always the worry with the Cobblers when a lead is reduced with plenty of time to play!

Tom Barkhuizan’s goal, though, only gave the slightest of hopes for Morecambe with Calvert-Lewin nipping in for Town’s fourth two minutes later. A late own goal, contested by a couple of covering Cobblers players, did little to cause the panic that the first Shrimps goal did and Wilder’s men confirmed a fine result.

It sets up a big ‘top of the table clash’ next week against league leaders Leyton Orient in a match that will again shine the focus once more on Sixfields and the ownership of our beloved club. If there are no further answers to questions that were well and truly pitched two weeks previous expect the high end battles to not just take place on the Sixfields turf.

Playoffs in sight as Town win fifth in a row!

Rico...another winner

Rico…another winner

The Cobblers’ claret surge goes on and on! A fifth win in a row is in itself a rarity for battle hardened Cobblers fans in recent years but combined with performances to match the increasingly secure points total this run turns into something that’s more and more impressive.

Saturday saw Morecambe give us one of the tougher run arounds of the five game winner streak amd the visitors could well have taken something from a game that on another day (perhaps when we were struggling) would have gone against us. But Town stood strong as well as producing another flowing display that was set into life after just twenty seven seconds by Joel Byrom’s close range effort.

The Shrimps, though, didn’t come to lie down and were perhaps boosted by the fact that they had no choice as to how to play with attack their only option. The equaliser was not a great surprise despite some more hard graft from a Cobblers side that have learnt to play in a number of different ways. Morecambe levelled when the lively as ever Jack Redshaw forced Matt Duke to palm the ball into the path of Jamie Devitt who took his chance to send us in all square at the break.

But with a newly instilled will to win and to keep the run going, the Cobblers weren’t to be denied and Evan Horwood’s scuffed shot was turned in by Marc Richards for his sixteenth goal of the season. Rico is now clear in the League Two scoring charts and we could well have our first Golden Boot winner in years on our hands. Considering he also missed a chunk of games early on, it’s a terrific return and one that doesn’t seem like it’s stopping any time soon.

Rico could even have added to it as well with a spot kick that smashed the post and in the process gave us a nervy old finish but despite the visitors hitting the woodwork themselves we held out for a victory that leaves us staring directly upwards rather than peering over our shoulders.

Just how far we can go is the big question – suddenly the playoffs are in sight with the Cobblers just five points shy of Bury in seventh. It’s now about keeping up this momentum and bouncing back quickly when the run ends. We will be beaten eventually of course but if the same belief that’s running through the club at the moment is still there then there’s no reason why we can’t still make something out of a season that was dead in the water at the end of 2014.

It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if, having won five in a row, we come up against bottom club Hartlepool on Tuesday night only to lose and get put back a step but perhaps that’s my years of being a Cobblers fan giving me a cynicism that’s not at all healthy!

All eyes north, then, for a long haul Tuesday night trip that may actually provide the biggest test of our resolve so far…

Back on track for tough run of games

morecambe_fc_0Morecambe 0-1 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, September 28th 2014

Ten games in to a season is usually a good check point as to how you’re getting on and where the campaign may take you so victory yesterday at Morecambe was a much needed booster as we reach the first unofficial marker. Ivan Toney’s first half goal means that it’s a record of five wins, two draws and three defeats after ten games with eighteen goals scored (the highest in League Two) and thirteen conceded (the highest in the top ten). Seventeen points is a good return and sets up the coming month of difficult looking fixtures with the Cobblers in fifth place.

To put it in perspective, after ten games last season we had only just won for the second time and sat second bottom of the table with just eight points and eight goals to our name – all in all a fantastic turn around that, despite one or two big hiccups, leaves us in good stead.

One major change is a strength in depth not seen for many a year within the Cobblers squad. Yesterday saw Marc Richards and Danny Alfei added to the injury list and Zander Diamond failing a late fitness test – to be able to bring in Toney, Ben Tozer and Lee Collins as replacements and for it to not disturb our pattern of play makes such a difference and it’s something that we’ll cling dearly to as the winter kicks in and games come thick and fast.

Morecambe have stalled on their particular journey of late having stunned a lot of the division by taking the early lead in proceedings. Town met them after they’d suffered back to back defeats and it was perhaps a good time to catch them, though the way we kept a clean sheet after last weekend’s atrocity against Accrington and found a way to hold on to the winner will have pleased Wilder and co.

The only goal of the game came after the always lively Kevin Ellison had shot wide for Morecambe with Toney leaping well to beat home keeper Barry Roache to the ball with a towering header. We were never truly in danger of surrendering that lead but there was always the doubt in the back of the mind after last week’s goings on.

Jordan Archer would have been one of the happiest men on the team bus home – he’s had a tough introduction to life at Sixfields having been thrust in to take the place of the injured Matt Duke. He’ll certainly be tested more in the next few weeks with games against the league’s current top two coming either side of the trip to Portsmouth in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and an always tricky one at Cheltenham after that.

We move onwards with confidence into the next ten games and if we can match the form of the opening ten then we’ll be there or there abouts going into Christmas. Sounds easy, right…?

Cobblers still missing the final pull from trouble…

emile sinclairMorecambe 1-1 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, March 22nd 2014

Another game down but no closer to safety do we go with the positives coming out of the eked out draw with Morecambe all coming down to the fact that it got no worse for the Cobblers. We seem to be completely stuck on the final pull out of the hole that we’ve made for ourselves in the first half of the season and despite good results of late we’re missing the cutting edge needed to make that final break for freedom.

We had a big, big chance to sit with the pack just above the bottom two here with the Cobblers a goal up thanks to Andrew Wright’s wild slice into his own net from an Emile Sinclair cross and you had a sense that with moments like that coupled with an early smacking of the post by Morecambe’s Padraig Amond made you think that maybe it may just be our day.

But the second half saw Town struggle to get into a groove or go for a second goal that would have killed off a home side still hurting from a hammering at Accrington on Tuesday night. Jamie Devitt sent out a warning shot with a lob that settled above the net rather than in it whilst Matt Duke produced a fine save to keep out Kevin Ellison from a free kick.

With fifteen minutes to play, though, the killer blow was struck and a deserved equaliser found the back of Duke’s net. Substitute Jack Redshaw skilfully set up Amond who made no mistake this time to level the scores. Sinclair missed a chance to immediately reply and won a flurry of late corners but couldn’t find the break through meaning that three massive points became one frustrating one and there’s still so much work to be done.

One of the key problems is still the lack of fire power at the top end of the pitch. Alan Connell and Emile Sinclair each bring something different to what we had before and have had moments of real quality but when it comes to just plain and simple goal getting I feel like we still need something more from them in these final eight games. The midfield also has to play their part and take some chances going forwards – goals are essentially going to keep us in this division and we have to be daring and take some chances in more ways than one.

We’re quite simply making the final rolls of the dice this week as Wimbledon and Bury come to town and if we’re not at least level on points with whoever occupies 22nd spot come 5pm on Saturday then we’re in big, big trouble.  One way or another, things will be unravelling big time by then.

Roll the dice, Cobblers…we need it now more than ever before.

Morecambe v Northampton Town: Match Preview


Morecambe v Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, March 22nd 2014

We’ve ticked down to just nine games to go in the 2013/14 season and if it isn’t to end in relegation to the Conference then the Cobblers are going to have to get right back on track very soon.  Welcoming Town this weekend are a Morecambe side licking their own wounds after a 5-1 trouncing at one of our relegation rivals Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night that manager Jim Bentley called “embarrassing”.

Home form has been better recently for the Shrimps, though, with just one defeat at the Globe Arena since the turn of the year. They’ve also won the last two games there, a 2-1 success against Southend United and a 4-1 hammering of Newport County so we’re in for a challenge if that side of them turns up on Saturday.

Maybe going away from home is a good thing for the Cobblers at the moment with some lethargy from three sides of Sixfields on Tuesday night reflecting a dismal performance on the pitch. That simply has to change and this could turn into a pivotal weekend in the season – if we end up six points from safety by the end of the day with eight games to go then you really have to start asking questions about whether it’s acceptance time but if it goes the other way then three points could bring us back some of the belief that’s been lost in some quarters.

We can do nothing but hope.

Team News…

Morecambe brought in defender Ryan Edwards on a one month loan deal on Friday with the 20-year-old going straight into the squad to face the Cobblers. Andy Fleming is also back in contention after returning from a two match suspension. Andy Parrish will be missing with a knee problem, though, whilst Shaun Beeley is out with a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, Stuart Drummond is expected to be sidelined for the rest of the season with a fractured toe.

The Cobblers have received a boost ahead of the game with Zander Diamond being passed fit. The defender suffered a pelvis injury during Tuesday night’s game with Rochdale and had to be withdrawn at half time but he’s ready to face Morecambe on Saturday.

Previous Six Meetings…

28/09/13: Cobblers 0-0 Morecambe (League Two)

A tame goalless draw at Sixfields earlier this season as both sides cancel each other out.

12/03/13: Morecambe 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)

Jack Redshaw’s goal looked like winning this fixture last season but a Kelvin Langmead special of a last minute goal earned us a point.

20/11/12: Cobblers 3-0 Morecambe (League Two)

After a goalless first half, Bayo Akinfenwa set the wheels in motion for an eventual comfortable win at Sixfields. An own goal from Kevin Ellison on the hour mark and a late strike from Ishmel Demontagnac sealed an important three points for the Cobblers.

07/01/12: Morecambe 1-2 Cobblers (League Two)

The Cobblers picked up a good away win at Morecambe soon into Aidy Boothroyd’s tenure as Town boss. John Johnson put us in front before loanee Akwasi Asante doubled the lead just after half-time. Kevin Ellison got one back but we held out for a solid three points.

27/08/11: Cobblers 0-2 Morecambe (League Two)

The reverse fixture earlier that season saw two first half goals – one from Phil Jevons and the other a Laurence Wilson penalty – earn Morecambe all three points as they built on a good start to the season.

07/05/11: Morecambe 1-2 Cobblers (League Two)

On the final day of the 2010/11 season there wasn’t a lot to play for but Gary Johnson picked up a rare win as Cobblers boss with Kevin Thornton giving Town the lead. Ben Tozer sealed it late on before Niall Cowperthwaite netted a late consolation for the hosts.

The man in the middle…

Taking charge of this one is Chris Sarginson who was the referee for the recent 2-1 win at Torquay United. His last Morecambe game was their 3-2 win at Newport County back in September.


It’s a game that we really, really need to take three points from like every game is from now on and with Morecambe still undecided on whether they plan to fight relegation or go for the playoffs it’s one we could get something from. They’re strong at home so I can’t see any more than a point for Town which would leave us looking nervously at other results once again. 1-1.

Injuries at the wrong time as Cobblers scrap for points

I felt from all the reports and opinions from Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Morecambe that a match report would have lasted only a couple of paragraphs at best (not just me being lazy!)  but a point is a point and clean sheet was desperately needed. With one small positive, though, usually comes more negatives and the fact that we failed to really trouble Morecambe’s keeper is a concern.

Even more so is that Clive Platt and Jacob Blyth both missed the game and will now sit out for up to three weeks leaving Roy O’ Donovan and youngsters Ivan Toney and JJ Hooper as the only realistic attacking options. Paul Reid and Mathias Doumbe managed to help the side to a clean sheet in their first game as a partnership in central defence against one of the higher scoring teams in League Two so far so that’s a good sign of hopefully better times to come.

It feels a bit like we’ve gone full circle and we’re back to trying to be a team that’s difficult to beat first and foremost, something highlighted by Ben Tozer’s introduction into the Morecambe game late on for striker Toney. If that’s how it needs to be then great but we have two very tough games coming up away from home at two high flying clubs in AFC Wimbledon and Oxford United. With the lack of fire power at one end there’s likely to be endless pressure on the new defensive unit in these upcoming fixtures.

Whether we dip into the loan market again (Blyth will likely return to Leicester and attempt to come back once he’s all fixed up) is unknown but from what Boothroyd is saying it’s likely that he’ll be having a look around to see what’s about. This is where contacts are going to be absolutely key at a time when we need that massive lift to wipe away the cobwebs of the early season.

You can make a case for putting in the young players but, in the middle of a battle to get out of the bottom two, I don’t think this is the right time. Any loans need to be reliable heads that Boothroyd trusts to score goals and compete with the hunger that’s needed at this stage. It can be a different type of striker that’s needed if you’re in a scrap at one end of the table than if we were flying high at the top and that has to be recognised so that we’re not just going for a youngster from Championship side X or Y whose experience is only comparable to what we have already.

It’s going to be a tough, tough couple of weeks with these games but we can’t abandon ship when hope is fading. I’ve said it more than I would have wanted to in the last couple of season but this sort of time supporting a football club makes players stand up and find out what they’re about whilst, at the same time, challenging our own loyalties.

Hold on in there!

Fan Feature: Morecambe

morecambeThis week’s Fan Feature sees Morecambe fan Jack Steer take the hot seat as he talks all things Shrimps! You can follow Jack on Twitter at @morecambejack

Straight to it this week (more of a q an a due to lack of time but still a great insight into the visitors to Sixfields tomorrow!)

How’s the start of this season gone?

Its been a very good start overall, currently sitting just outside the playoffs. Unbeaten in 5 and they could have all been wins had it not been for a late goal in injury time last week. Despite the squad being stretched with injuries, we seem to be coping and getting points on the board.

Any major changes from last season in personnel or tactics?

There has been quite a bit of change in the playing squad due to further budget cuts. A lot of senior players have left and have largely been replaced by younger players looking to prove themselves, but based on the season so far the younger players are proving better, if not as experienced.

What’s your realistic ambitions for the season?

Staying in the football league is the main focus, but as soon as we hit the 50 point mark, we will only be looking up. The sooner we get points on board the better, so we can play without any real worry. I’m sure most would be thrilled if we had a chance of a play-off place come May.

Who are your danger men for Saturday?

As always Kevin Ellison will prove a handful and can score out of next to nothing. Padraig Amond looked lively last week so hopefully he will keep performing well, but generally our goals have been coming from all over the park!

Any up and coming young players?

Many. Jim Bentley seems to have picked a bunch of exciting young players who, with a bit more experience, could potentially play at a much higher level. New striker Jack Sampson has been particularly impressive as a target man.

And, finally, a prediction for the game?

Given the way the last 5 games have gone, we will probably go behind but win! The pressure is on Aidy Boothroyd to get some results, so hopefully we can go out a little less nervous and play some good football.

Northampton Town v Morecambe: Match Preview

sixfieldsNorthampton Town v Morecambe

League Two

Saturday, September 28th 2013

It may be too early to call games ‘must win’ but tomorrow afternoon’s visit of Morecambe really is one that we have to be collecting points from. The Shrimps, though, are going well and sit on the fringes of the top seven following a good start to the season and are likely to cause plenty of problems for a Cobblers side looking for only their second victory of the season.

Jim Bentley’s side come into the game off the back of a run of four wins and a draw in the last five games with only last weekend’s late equaliser from Dagenham and Redbridge’s Rhys Murphy preventing them from making it five from five.

They’re also scoring plenty of goals at the moment with thirteen from eight games, though they’ve also conceded the most goals of any of those sides in the top eleven places in League Two. Hoping to stop them from adding to their own goals tally will be new Cobblers recruit, and an old face to us, Paul Reid who re-signed for Town on Friday. Reid is on a contract until January and is reunited with Aidy Boothroyd who was his manager at Colchester United.

With still no clean sheets all season in any competitions it’s a wise move and one that will hopefully provide the leadership we’re crying out for at the moment. Reid was a popular figure during his last spell and has bags of experiences at this, and a higher, level.

Dwindling crowds, poor results and a general feeling of a hung over club we still need that remedy to make us all feel a lot better – that starts with three points tomorrow afternoon. Keep the faith!


Team News…

The Cobblers have signed up Paul Reid today with the defender, who made over fifty appearances for Town between 2002 and 2004, going straight into the squad to face Morecambe. That could mean that last weekend’s debutant Mathias Doumbe drops down to the bench. Matt Heath has been ruled out for 3-4 weeks with a thigh strain whilst Kelvin Langmead and Lewis Hornby remain on the sidelines.

Morecambe should have Andy Parrish and Andy Fleming fit but they will still be without striker Jack Redshaw who is recovering from hip surgery. Former Cobblers loan defender Robbie Threlfall is suspended and Marcus Marshall has a hamstring problem.


Previous Six Meetings…

12/03/13: Morecambe 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)

Jack Redshaw’s goal looked like winning the last clash between the sides but a Kelvin Langmead special of a last minute goal earned us a point.

20/11/12: Cobblers 3-0 Morecambe (League Two)

After a goalless first half, Bayo Akinfenwa set the wheels in motion for an eventual comfortable win at Sixfields. An own goal from Kevin Ellison on the hour mark and a late strike from Ishmel Demontagnac sealed an important three points for the Cobblers.

07/01/12: Morecambe 1-2 Cobblers (League Two)

The Cobblers picked up a good away win at Morecambe soon into Aidy Boothroyd’s tenure as Town boss. John Johnson put us in front before loanee Akwasi Asante doubled the lead just after half-time. Kevin Ellison got one back but we held out for a solid three points.

27/08/11: Cobblers 0-2 Morecambe (League Two)

The reverse fixture earlier that season saw two first half goals – one from Phil Jevons and the other a Laurence Wilson penalty – earn Morecambe all three points as they built on a good start to the season.

07/05/11: Morecambe 1-2 Cobblers (League Two)

On the final day of the 2010/11 season there wasn’t a lot to play for but Gary Johnson picked up a rare win as Cobblers boss with Kevin Thornton giving Town the lead. Ben Tozer sealed it late on before Niall Cowperthwaite netted a late consolation for the hosts.

15/02/11: Cobblers 3-3 Morecambe (League Two)

In a six goal thriller, John Johnson headed the Cobblers in front but Morecambe levelled when Kevan Hurst shot through a crowd of players mid-way through the first half. Kevin Thornton restored the lead before Jimmy Spencer equalised again for the visitors. Leon McKenzie tucked in a penalty to make it 3-2 but for the third time, Morecambe hit back again with Paul Mullin having the final say.


The man in the middle…

Taking charge of this one is Darren Sheldrake who refereed two Cobblers games last season – the 4-0 shambles at Barnet and the 1-0 home win over Torquay United at the end of March.



One day I’ll predict a win and it’ll happen…it really, really needs to happen tomorrow afternoon but Morecambe are tough opposition and won’t have any sympathy for our current plight. I’m staying positive and going for a 2-0 Cobblers win to lift the gloom slightly!