Four more points in the bag

Langmead...another late goal

Langmead…another late goal

Northampton Town 2-0 Accrington Stanley

Morecambe 1-1 Northampton Town

This type of Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday week is becoming a familiar feature of the second half of the season with plenty of games to be caught up with from winter postponements. And if the Cobblers are to be promoted in any way come the end of the season, this is exactly the type of double result that needs to be happening on a regular basis.

A home win followed by a point away from home may seem par for the course for a playoff chasing side but these points cannot in any way be underestimated as those chasing the playoffs close in and those at the top squeeze tightly into seven crucial league positions.

For me to be writing about an end of the season that could well end with at least a playoff spot is a pleasure in itself. With just eight games to go the excitement is starting to well and truly kick in. Suddenly we can see the finish line and if result continue like this then there’s no reason why we can’t be going into the final game of the season with genuine hope of an automatic promotion spot.

I’ve spoke before of the composure of home wins throughout what is now an eight game streak that stretched back to December and the renewed sense of belief and spirit away from home. At Exeter we had a real off day but that’s been pushed right to the back of the memory banks with two fine performances that could even have ended with a maximum points haul.

The home win against Accrington was set up in the first half, during which Chris Hackett welcomed himself back to action with a rocket of a free kick before former Cobblers loan keeper Paul Rachubka handed the second to Roy O’ Donovan on a plate, slamming the ball against him and losing the battle to reach it at the second attempt.

Stanley threatened more in the second half but it was comfortable enough for a Cobblers side who are getting the hang of doing just enough at Sixfields to keep up a sequence that could break some records should it carry on much longer. The current best home run ever for a Town side is 12 in a row between April and December 1927 and with four home games to go this season we could match that (or attempt to break it if we enter the playoffs!)

The latest home win set up a Tuesday trip to Morecambe nicely with the Shrimps coming into the game on the back of a 4-1 hammering at Barnet on Saturday. They were out to prove a point and after the Cobblers had hit the post three times in the first half it was almost inevitable that the irritatingly bitey Jack Redshaw put them in front with a fine finish following a lay off from Kevin Ellison.

It didn’t look like being our night until once again we had Captain Marvel to thank for hauling us back from the brink. In the 88th minute, Ishmel Demontagnac’s free kick smacked the post and the ball dropped low for Kelvin Langmead to nod into the empty net. It was nothing less than the Cobblers deserved and on another night we may well have been celebrating back to back victories.

But four points is another big step, particularly with teams around us keeping up the pressure with points of their own. Port Vale are dropping like flies and are now the team to catch in third thanks to Burton Albion’s own form that has taken them above the Valiants.

I think we can discount Gillingham who are keeping their heads when all around them drop out of the race with Martin Allen’s men five points clear at the top with a game in hand. Apart from that though it’s all up for grabs with Town three points from Burton and two from Port Vale. Perhaps what we should be looking at first, though, is those just outside the playoff places and with Southend suffering another defeat they’ve slipped away a bit, meaning that Fleetwood and Oxford are the main contenders going into this weekend.

There’s seven points between the Cobblers and eighth place at the moment and that’s what my main focus is at the moment. If we can seal a playoff place before the end of the season I would be delighted and anything more from then would be amazing.

Wycombe away on Saturday will give us another big test but you get the feeling that this Cobblers side is capable of keeping themselves rolling on. There will be setbacks like Exeter along the way I’m sure but as long as we bounce back like we have done in the last few days then promotion dreams will stay alive.

Riding on the waves of optimism

Boothroyd…three wins in a row!

Northampton Town 3-0 Morecambe

League Two

Tuesday, November 20th 2012

I could get used to this! It was a third win on the bounce for the Cobblers last night and an ever growing optimism and hope around the club. There was another goal for Bayo Akinfenwa, a clean sheet ‘re-debut’ for Clarke Carlisle along-side the ever consistent Kelvin Langmead at the back and three more big points to lift us up to ninth place in League Two. It means we’re just a point off the playoff positions and three from the automatic promotion places.

I’ve started to actually get into that dangerous area of believing that this squad has the look of a consistent, solid and promotion challenging group. To speak those words shocks me but when you look at past promoted sides that we’ve fielded it’s hard not to draw comparisons. In Lee Nicholls we have arguably one of, if not the, best keeper in the division, in Langmead and Carlisle there’s a centre back pairing that understand each other and work brilliantly together, in Chris Hackett there’s excitement and drive that’s been missing so badly and in Bayo Akinfenwa we have a genuine goal threat who should reach that rare goal of a Cobblers forward of the twenty goal season.

Trying to calm this November surge of excitement is difficult but for Cobblers fans we have to enjoy it and take it in. Two years of dismal football, scrappy performances and loan players that just don’t have what it takes for a League Two battle is likely to bring anyone down so when we hit a sudden run of form we should embrace it and ride on it, encourage Sixfields to be filled and show this division what Northampton Town can be.

To prosper, it’s essential to fight past sides like Morecambe, a strong unit and one that’s difficult to break down. The first half last night proved that their resolve in so nearly taking a point from leaders Gillingham on Saturday was no fluke. Kevin Ellison hit a post with Chris Hackett’s free kick at the other end our only response.

On the hour mark, though, the resolve was broken and it was a recurring theme of a goal that gave us the lead. “Ben Tozer’s throw was headed in by Bayo Akinfenwa” must be the most used phrase of all League Two goals this season with the combination once again coming to fruition as the big man scored his thirteenth of the season and seventh in four league game. Bayo’s on absolute fire at the moment and is surely in line for at least a nomination for League Two Player of the Month for November.

That goal opened the floodgates and Tozer again took his chance a few minutes later by whipping in another big throw that was unluckily headed into his own net by Ellison who had earlier gone so close when attacking the same goal in the first half. Bayo was removed with twenty minutes to go in a wise move – he needs to be kept under wraps in these busy times and with a big game at Oxford coming on Saturday. Clive Platt, contrary to some Town fans’ belief, is a solid replacement at that stage of a match with his hold up play alone enough to help see out a match.

In the event, it was the Cobblers who would add to the score line late on as the visitor’s efforts fizzled out. Louis Moult, brought off the bench for the closing stages, had the ball in the net but the referee had already blown for a free kick. No matter though, Ishmel Demontagnac stepped up and curled the ball in to cap another terrific night for the Cobblers.

That’s thirteen goals in four games in the last week and a bit for Town and the first time that we’ve put together a winning sequence of three in the league since March. Back then it was all about catching up with the pack of teams above us to survive in League Two –this latest run means that the group we’re fighting to keep up with are those involved the promotion race.

I don’t know about you but that gives me a spring in my step until Saturday. It’s perfect timing for Oxford away and the Cobblers playing in front of what would have been our biggest away following of the season even before this recent run. I’m desperate for this bubble to keep on floating towards unheard of territory for the last couple of seasons and if this group of players continues like this we hopefully won’t be hearing much popping any time soon!

Northampton Town v Morecambe: Match Preview

Northampton Town v Morecambe

League Two

Tuesday, November 20th 2012

As the Cobblers look to continue this good run of form of the last month or so, Morecambe are in town attempting to put a spanner in the works of growing optimism around Sixfields. Town have moved into a strong position in the top half of League Two thanks to three wins from the last four games, fixtures that have given us ten points from a possible twelve. The visitors will provide a big test though, having pushed the league leaders all the way a few days ago.

Last gasp agony for Morecambe at the Priestfield…

The Shrimps were on their own four game unbeaten run heading to Gillingham on Saturday and looked like they were going to extend it when Jack Redshaw got on the end of a Kevin Ellison cross to equaliser Lewis Montrose’s first half strike. But as the game entered stoppage time, Deon Burton brought down a ball into the box and smashed in a dramatic winner, meaning that Morecambe will come to Sixfields looking to get right back on track.

Redshaw leading the way…

The man who scored the Shrimp’s goal at the weekend, Jack Redshaw, leads the club’s goal scoring charts so far with seven goals. The 21-Year-Old initially signed from Altrincham in January of this year having come through the ranks at Manchester City and gone on to play for Rochdale.

Half price tickets for ‘Movember’…

The Cobblers are reminding fans that tickets for this match are down to half price with 40% of match ticket sales going towards the ‘Movember’ cause. That means adults can get in for just £10 with children’s tickets set at £5!

 

Club Links…

Cobblers defender David Artell played over a hundred games for Morecambe between 2007 and 2010 scoring thirteen goals for the club before moving on to Crewe Alexandra.

Morecambe left-back Robbie Threlfall had a short spell on loan with the Cobblers in 2009, playing four times.

Fellow defender Chris McCready is another to have played for both sides, turning out fourteen times in the 2009/10 campaign.

 

Carlisle…back in town

Team News…

The Cobblers welcome back Louis Moult from his three game ban whilst Emyr Huws also comes back into the squad after recovering from injury. Clarke Carlisle is in line for a second ‘debut’ for the club after re-signing on Monday afternoon but Luke Guttridge and David Artell are still out long term.

Morecambe were dealt a blow last week when striker Jordan Burrow was ruled out for up to three months with ligament damage picked up during their victory over Barnet. Jack Redshaw could return to the starting line-up after scoring from the bench on Saturday.  Meanwhile, Wigan defender Jordan Mustoe has signed a further loan deal with the Shrimps until January and goes straight back into the squad.

 

Previous Six Meetings…

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

The last time the clubs met goals from John Johnson and loan striker Akwasi Asante gave the Cobblers control. Kevin Ellison pulled one back late on for the home side but Town held on for a good away win.

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.

20/03/10: Cobblers 2-0 Morecambe (League Two)

Goals from Liam Davis and Ryan Gilligan give the Cobblers a comfortable victory in the first ever Sixfields meeting between the sides.

24/10/99: Morecambe 2-4 Cobblers (League Two)

Town came out on top in the first ever game between the two with Steve Guinan even getting on the score sheet! Guinan opened the scoring but we were 2-1 down by half time thanks to a Phil Jevons penalty and a Stuart Drummond header. But a second half blitz gave us the victory with Andy Holt equalising and further goals from John Johnson and Bayo Akinfenwa wrapping it up.

 

The man in the middle…

Refereeing on Tuesday night will be Iain Williamson who was last in charge of a Cobblers match in the 0-0 draw with Accrington Stanley on the opening day of last season. So far this season he has shown forty one yellow cards and two reds in twelve matches.

 

Prediction…

It’s hard to look past the Cobblers but I have a feeling for a draw against a Morecambe side that are likely to be stubborn and well organised in a bid to frustrate us. I’m going for 1-1.

Cobblers in the spotlight on Day 4 of Previews!

The Cobblers are one of the four sides in today’s League Two Season Previews and are joined by Gillingham, Morecambe and Oxford United as we head into the second half of the series ahead of the big kick off!

Here are the links for today:

Gillingham

Morecambe

Northampton Town

Oxford United

For links to all of the previews so far, click here!