The ‘A Load of Cobblers’ Alternative Review of the Season 2017/18: April and May

With six games to go and an overwhelming sense of doom hanging over the Cobblers, the season looked as lost as Terry Fenwick in a manager’s coat ahead of what was, on paper, a terrifying trip to London Road to face The Posh.

The damage to Jimmy Floyd’s Cobblers reign had been done many times over ahead of the derby and the fact that the eventual 2-0 defeat was seen as something of a relief to have not been hammered told you everything about the last few weeks. Hasselbaink had no way back and following a pre, during and post-match rant by previous derby hero Ian Sampson on BBC Radio Northampton it was confirmed that the Cobblers were indeed parting ways with the former Chelsea man.

Dean Austin was the man charged with salvaging something – anything – out of the season with relegation highly likely with five games to play. Austin had been mainly in the background as Jimmy’s assistant over the previous months and was really in a no lose scenario as caretaker boss until the end of the season.

Austin’s first game in charge stuck with the norm as Town succumbed to a disastrous 3-0 reverse at Blackpool and hope was fading fast that he could mastermind a complete change of fortunes.

But sometimes hope makes you suffer more than the reality as the Cobblers and Austin suddenly came to life, playing with a heart and a desire that had arguably not been seen since the League Two championship winning side.

First came three points at fellow strugglers Bury. Town took the lead through Ash Taylor before The Shakers, all but down before the game, levelled a few minutes later thanks to Peter Clarke’s close range goal. Sam Hoskins raced through for 2-1 but Danny Mayor looked to have put the hosts’ relegation on hold with Bury’s second equaliser. Taylor then majestically swooped like a woken starling to hammer in Dan Powell’s cross with two minutes to go for the Cobblers and that winning feeling had returned in dramatic style.

There were still a whole host of games in hand to be played but with the Cobblers three points from safety there was that glimmer of a chance that we could pull of what would have been a miraculous escape. Even more so after playoff chasing Plymouth Argyle came to town.

This would be the performance of the season and the one that may well have earned Austin the full time job. The Cobblers played with verve, hunger and passion and deservedly beat their high flying opponents in front of a Sixfields atmosphere to match. John-Joe O’Toole deflected the ball home just before the break before Sonny Bradley’s own goal made it two on the hour mark. Suddenly, with two of the three teams above us to play in the last two games there was something to fight for again.

It would, though, come to the cruellest of ends in true Cobblers style. The trip to Walsall, with a mass of claret humanity urging the side on, was one of THOSE games. Town hit the woodwork twice and had the ball cleared off the line before a frantic finale. Austin decided to go for broke and the home side sensed a chance at the other end as George Dobson steered the Saddlers towards their own safety and sent us to the very edge of the drop, now needing a huge goal swing against Oldham on the last day to survive.

Oldham still needed to match Rochdale’s result to survive themselves and looked well on course when George Edmundson struck early on. But a Matt Grimes penalty and an Ash Taylor scramble set nerves jangling in the away end. When Rochdale took their lead in their game against Charlton that became full on panic and even though the visitors levelled it wasn’t enough and the Cobblers had dragged them down to League Two with us.

It was an exhausting final few weeks but it was all given to us by Dean Austin bringing in a completely new way of playing, by instilling belief and fire into the players and really putting himself out in front in the running to become permanent boss. Yes it still resulted in relegation but the Cobblers fans had their club back, the players were united with us again and we could actually look forward ahead of a season back in League Two.

It came as no surprise, then, that Austin was named full time manager just after the seasons’ end and we can hopefully look forward to better things to come over the summer and into a challenging League Two campaign.

Twitter Said:

@chronsport “The Cobblers did not just beat Plymouth, they battered them. If 2-0 could ever be classed as a thrashing, this was it. Those in the away end may claim their side played poorly but the truth is they were made to look poor by a transformed Cobblers team.”

@James_ChronNTFC Tell you what, never mind the manager’s job. Dean Austin deserves a knighthood for getting a performance like *that* out of the Cobblers. Sensational. 2-0 flatters Plymouth.

@TomalinJames Cobblers essentially get relegated, and I get blocked on Twitter by the Shadow Home Secretary! #oneofthosedays

Moment of the Month:

The 2-0 win over Plymouth at Sixfields – superb on and off the pitch.

Player of the Month:

Ash Taylor summed up the newly found spirit in the camp. Sam Hoskins had an excellent month too.

Song for the Month:


The ‘A Load of Cobblers’ Alternative Review of the Season 2017/18: March

“Am I meant to be playing left back, Jimmy?”

After a two week mini winter break, it was on to the final furlong of the season as the Cobblers looked to hold on to their position just above the bottom four in League One.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink had dipped into his Orange Pages just before the trip to Bristol Rovers to bring in fellow Dutchman and striker Kevin Luckassen, formerly of AZ Alkmaar, Ross County, Slovan Liberec and SKN St Polten (thanks Wikipedia!) to bolster the attacking ranks. His luck was indeed in as big Kev scored within moments of his debut by coming off the bench to nod in an equaliser at Bristol Rovers in a 1-1 draw to kick off March.

Playing at Sixfields was Hasselbaink’s worst enemy though after he’d come out and publically showed his anger at home fans booing after the 0-0 draw with Oxford United at the end of February. The murmurings were getting louder and louder after another dismal performance at home, this time against playoff bound Rotherham United who took a comfortable 3-0 win back to Yorkshire.

Better was to come on the Tuesday night with a good 1-1 draw with high flying Shrewsbury that was all going right at the break as Shay Facey put the Cobblers in front. But when John-Joe O’Toole and Abu Ogogo decided to bring some WWE skills into proceedings, earning them both an early bath, any flow was unsettled and Jon Nolan would earn his side a point.

A crucial trip to fellow strugglers Fleetwood Town was up next and it would prove to be a critical point in the season and in Hasselbaink’s reign. A poor performance, a 2-0 defeat and a long trudge home led to many believing that this was the beginning of the end for the season and for Jimmy.

Those thoughts were compounded in the final game of the month as Charlton Athletic won 4-0 at Sixfields in an afternoon stroll on Good Friday. With a trip to arch rivals Peterborough United up next, the gloom surrounding the club was palpable and it was, from here, only a matter of time before the Hasslebaink reign was, mercifully, brought to an end. With just six games to go and with Town back in the bottom four, the writing was very much on the wall.

Twitter Said:

@ian_townsend JFH is the only manager who makes unfathomable selections that not one cobblers fan would make he must be a genius we’ve not recognised it yet

@alan0015 Well that was a soggy and cold afternoon at Sixfields. Lost 0-4 to Charlton who were decent to be fair, but Cobblers looked clueless. #ntfc #goingdown

@TheRealCase Well, that was a bit of horror show by the Cobblers at Sixfields today. Rotherham were good, but Town allowed them so much time and space. Playing at home looks to have become a real problem for some of this team, and that does not bode well for their survival chances #ntfc

Moment of the Month:

Not a lot to go on so I’ll go with Luckassen’s first touch in a Cobblers shirt finding the next at The Mem.

Player of the Month:


Song for the Month:

Coming up: Bye bye Jimmy, hello Dean and relegation despite a renewal of hope.


The ‘A Load of Cobblers’ Alternative Review of the Season 2017/18: February

As February came into view, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink seemed to finally have his marbles in order, his team in some sort of shape and his new signings playing ball and it was time to look up the table rather than down it, powered on by the momentum gained in a spectacular (by our standards) January.

What better way to start than with a home game against a Rochdale side distracted by a fine run in the FA Cup? Obviously this game appearing like a beacon of hope for three pocketable points should have been a warning sign. Dale promptly came, saw and took home a single goal victory thanks to Calvin Andrew.

The Cobblers were, though, putting out their best work on the road and the away form was helping to keep our heads just above water. Goals from Matt Grimes, Matt Crooks and Daniel Powell helped us to an impressive 3-1 success at AFC Wimbledon to keep up an unbeaten away run in 2018 that would stretch through the first couple of months of the calendar year.

Then it happened. I’m sure how to describe it other than an atrocity of a first half performance. A team that had looked so good at Wimbledon was suddenly looking as abject as anything put out in many a year, especially at a stunned Sixfields. Gillingham could and should have been more than 2-0 up at half-time in a game that even Terry Fenwick would have despaired at. The fact that Town pulled one back in the second half through Ash Taylor did nothing to hide the abomination of that first forty five yet we could easily have nicked a point. Hildeberto Pereira’s red card for falling for Lee Martin’s tricks and reacting to the former Town man in a way that many in the stands would have liked to have reacted put the seal on a dismal night.

This was about the time in the season where Jimmy’s tinkering grew to whole new levels and his relationship with the Cobblers faithful took a turn as players began popping up in strange positions and his post match reactions attempted to hide the baffling nature of his teams performances.

Next up was a trip to Scunthorpe United and Town took the lead twice through Chris Long and John-Joe O’Toole but both times the hosts hit back to earn what, on paper, was a very good point. It was the form at Sixfields, though, that was dragging us down, so much so that a 0-0 draw with Oxford United a week later was seen as something of a success despite a smattering of boos greeting the full time whistle.

Town ended the month in 19th place but most sides still held plenty of games in hand over us, setting up a frantic few Tuesday nights in the run-in as gaps started to close and the net began closing in.

Twitter Said:

@James_ChronNTFC: HT: Cobblers 0-2 Gillingham. Just when you think you have this #ntfc team figured out, they throw in a 45 minutes like that. Beyond bad. 2-0 flatters them. Cue boos.

@chronsport HT Cobblers 0 Gillingham 2 – and so ends a truly awful first half from the Cobblers. Clueless as an attacking force, all over the place in defence. It can only get better #ntfc

@dannybrothers #ntfc form is like a toddler having constant tantrums and then coming back downstairs with a heartfelt apology every time.

Moment of the Month:

The 3-1 victory at Wimbledon looked a huge result at the time.

Player of the Month:

Richard O’Donnell picked up the official award after a strong start to his Town career.

Song for the Month:

Coming Up: March blues as Jimmy’s reign unravels and the Cobblers drift towards eventual doom. Looking forward to it…


The ‘A Load of Cobblers’ Alternative Review of the Season 2017/18: January

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day. It’s a new year. Welcome to 2018 everyone! It had been a horrific couple of months barring one or two decent results and the Cobblers, Jimmy Floyd and Kelvin Thomas were up against it in a fight to stay in League One. But never fear, the transfer window was here to save the day!

In came Richard O’Donnell, a solid stopper at this level as well as the promising right back Shay Facey, the all-out attacking left wingback Jo Bunney, central defender Jordan Turnbull and, erm, Jack Bridge. Also coming in was Hildeberto Pereira, a flashy yet fiery character last seen on these shores at Nottingham Forest. Finishing off the recruitment was a man who even got his own promotional signing video from the club – it’s Jimmy’s fellow Dutchman Kevin Van Veen of course, here to save the day. Joking aside, Van Veen signing was seen as a real coup at the time and one that could propel us right out of the bottom four single handedly. Oh well…

Jimmy had a small clear out of his cupboard as well with strikers Marc Richards and Alex Revell on their way back to League Two with Swindon and Stevenage respectively while George Smith, who had made that outstanding start to Hasselbaink’s reign by setting up the first goal of the Hasselbaink era within twenty seconds, was sold to Chesterfield to make way for Bunney.

On the pitch, things seemed to be continuing in the same vein (Van Veen?) as Town were beaten by league powerhouses Wigan Athletic at Sixfields but the 1-0 defeat saw a small improvement in terms of performance that would be built on over the best month of our season.

Southend United came to Sixfields on a poor run and defied usual Cobblers logic by not actually ending a barren sequence and losing to Town. John-Joe O’Toole’s opener and a Jason Demetriou penalty had the game in the balance at half-time but second half strikes from Matt Grimes, also from the spot, and Alex Revell handed us a huge three points. Revell stormed towards the bench like a runaway train following his cameo and goal to scream “that’s why” at Jimmy and the bench. That’s why you don’t need to sign another striker presumably. He was right, in some ways.

Even more joyous occurrings followed at Bradford of all places – not usually the best hunting ground for the Cobblers. John-Joe headed home again and Chris Long set up an unexpected victory despite a late goal from the home side’s Paul Taylor.

We were on a roll! The playoffs were in sight! Well, maybe not, but this was fun. Two wins out of two was enough to send anyone potty so imagine the scenes when we actually made it three in succession by defeating the sinking MK Dons at Sixfields. Joe Bunney channeled his inner George Smith by storming down the left to assist the opener, from O’Toole again. MK threatened to ruin the party by equalising soon after but Chris Long got on the end of a Sam Hoskins cross to make it nine points from nine, pulling the plastic population down towards danger in the process.

JJOT was already being touted for League One Player of the Month even before yet another goal, this time at Ewood Park as Town nicked another excellent point. Danny Graham got the home side’s goal late on but it didn’t prevent January from being touted as a real turning point in the Cobblers’ season.

We had climbed out of the bottom four by the month’s end and were three points clear of MK Dons in 21st as the second half of the season kicked into gear.

Twitter Said:

@JoeAFC: Kevin Van Veen signing for Northampton..What a signing for @NTFC. Hasslebaink showing a clear statement of intent! Proven goalscorer in League One!

@ntfcbrasil Grande resultado! Nesta tarde, os Cobblers receberam o MK Dons, e a vitória veio novamente! John-Joe O’Toole e Chris Long marcaram e selaram a nossa vitória por 2 a 1!

@NQNTFC A goal and assist for John-Joe O’Toole at Bradford. Such an important cog in the Northampton machine. Amazing how far he has come at the Cobblers. A cult figure and for good reason. #ntfc

Moment of the Month:

For the first time in a while there’s an actual choice for this! Three big wins and perhaps the most impressive was the victory at Bradford.

Player of the Month:

John-Joe O’Toole had a huge month and deservedly won the League One Player of the Month award as well as the club award.

Song for the Month:

Coming up: Steadying the ship ahead of the final furlong, Berto madness and one of the worst 45 minutes ever seen by a Cobblers team at Sixfields.

The ‘A Load of Cobblers’ Alternative Review of the Season 2017/18: December

It’s Christmas time…there’s no need to be afraid. Well, actually, there was for Cobblers fans. Still deep in trouble in the bottom four and with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink still trying to formulate some sort of plan of escape it was to be a crucial period of the season and looking back on it, this is where major cracks appeared.

Drawing the final game of November with fellow strugglers Bury at home wasn’t ideal and even the Checkatrade Trophy couldn’t provide light relief this time as Portsmouth disposed of Jimmy’s men in the first knockout stage, winning 2-0 at Fratton Park.

So with the Cobblers out of all cup competitions, it was full focus on the league and a trip to Oldham got as many alarm bells ringing as that Bristol Rovers hammering early in Hasselbaink’s reign. While you could put the Gas defeat down to ironing out some early issues, there was no excuse for a 5-1 hammering here. Sam Foley got the only Town goal but it was all but lost at 3-0 by that point and the home side simply kicked on again to easily dispose of a poor looking Cobblers side.

A response was needed and one came briefly with a 2-1 home win over Walsall with Erhun Oztumer’s early strike reversed by a Chris Long brace. It was, though, to be our only December victory. Amadou Bakayoko was sent off late on for the visitors.

As had been the case with much of our season up to this point, fresh signs of hope faded quickly to make way for unfathomable defeats and dropped points. Once again it looked like we were doing something like playing football and grinding out results following the Walsall win and there was even an excellent home point gained from Blackburn Rovers two days before Christmas.

But December closed with back to back away defeats, 3-0 at Doncaster Rovers and 3-1 at Pompey. Town took the lead in the game on the south coast but there was never a real belief that we were about to hang on and end a pretty bleak calendar year in style.

So it was that with twenty five games played, the Cobblers had collected just 23 points and needed a huge improvement in the second half of the season to fight against a tide that was building and building towards the relegation coast line.

Twitter Said:

@James_ChronNTFC FT: Oldham 5-1 Cobblers. League Two isn’t so bad. We’ve had many woeful afternoons and this is another one to add to the collection.

@CobblersPast Amadou Bakayoko  the Walsall striker was the 96th player to be dismissed against the Cobblers since the club was formed in 1897! @ntfc #ntfc @cobblerspast

@Somerset_Pompey I don’t think I’ve ever seen a side look so scared as Cobblers were today, especially their defence. Looked as if they thought the ball was going to explode anytime it went near them, couldn’t get rid of it quick enough. Worst team I’ve seen this season by a Pompey mile.

Moment of the Month:

Winning a football match.

Player of the Month: Chris Long popped up with the goals during the only real high points.

Song for the Month:

Coming up: New faces, new results and the shoots of a possible recovery (again)…

The ‘A Load of Cobblers’ Alternative Review of the Season 2017/18: November

As the Cobblers entered November 2017 off the back of a good run of seven points from three games following a shocker of a double home defeat there was fresh optimism in the air at Sixfields as the FA Cup First Round rolled in. High flying Scunthorpe United came to town and in a rough and ready battle took the game back to Glanford Park for a replay after a 0-0 draw that didn’t really satisfy either side.

Scunny would be regular foes in November with Town eventually facing them three times in a matter of weeks in league and cup.

First up, though, was the Checkatrade Trophy and a bizarre run in the competition continued. With Southampton’s Under 21s (don’t get me started!) 3-0 up at Sixfields and Town doing their upmost to go out of the much maligned trophy we instead chose this night to produce the best comeback of the season. In front of 1,118 people. And it featured a wonder goal. If that’s not all typical Cobblers then I don’t know what is! The comeback, thanks to Sam Foley, Lewis McGugan’s rocket and Ash Taylor meant that for a third tie in a row we were facing penalties. A 4-2 shootout win later and Town were through to the knockout stage having not won once in three group games during ninety minutes. Next, please.

While that result didn’t exactly get the pluses racing, a few days later the Cobblers produced one of the few moments in the season that will be remembered, at old foes Oxford United. Taylor put us in front before Wes Thomas equalised just before half-time. But seconds later, Chris Long was racing through on goal, beating defenders to the final touch and finishing with aplomb in front of the Kassam car park. Over 1,000 Town fans were in attendance that day – hilariously a larger number in total than the entire attendance for the Checkatrade Trophy game a few days earlier – and we held on for a big three points and yet another win at Oxford, a third in a row at the home of the U’s.

Games were coming thick and fast and the cup replay against Scunthorpe was up next and with a mouthwatering second round tie away at Doncaster Rovers to play for, the home side nicked it thanks to the impressive Hakeeb Adelakun’s worldy.

There was to be no repeat of that as part three of the Cobblers-Scunny trilogy played out that Saturday. Oh no, we wouldn’t let them sneak it by a single goal this time. Indeed not…we lost 3-0 instead and clouds began to circle once more.

Going into the clash at Plymouth Argyle, Town were four points ahead of the Pilgrims so it represented a good chance to create a bit of distance between ourselves but it was the home side that kick started their own season instead, winning 2-0 thanks to a Sonny Bradley brace. Argyle would, of course, go on to finish just outside of the playoff places thanks to an almighty run in the second half of the campaign.

Another side right in the thick of it were Bury who were at Sixfields for the final game of the month and November ended just as it had begun, with a goalless draw that left both of us deep in the mire. Unlike Plymouth, though, neither the Shakers or ourselves would really get out of danger again all season.

Twitter Said:

@dannybrothers 16/02/16 – Oxford 0-1 Cobblers, 26/12/16 – Oxford 0-1 Cobblers, 11/11/17 – Oxford 1-2 Cobblers

Cheers lads! #oufc #ntfc

@James_ChronNTFCFT: Cobblers 0-3 Scunthorpe. Horror second-half. #ntfc back in the bottom four and now have a huge two games coming up.

Moment of the Month:

Has to be the win at Oxford. One of the few highlights of the season.

Player of the Month: Marc Richards was given the official award but Ash Taylor can’t have been too far behind once again.

Song for the Month:

Coming up: A bleak midwinter, another pummeling and not even a penalty shootout win!


NTFC Season in Review 2012/13: April and May

Wells...Cobblers troubler again

Wells…Cobblers troubler again

At the start of April the Cobblers played a game of risk at the top of League Two with a place in the top three hanging by a thread in the opening couple of fixtures. First up was a trip to Cheltenham – a massive six pointer – that saw Steve Elliot’s solitary goal give the Rubies a big win to keep in touch with us in the race for third.

Town had somehow held on to third place with other results going for us and it was a similar story a few days later when Nahki Wells scored the only goal of the game against us at Bradford, continuing his fine run of form against the Cobblers to condemn us to another 1-0 defeat. Somehow, though, other results again went in our favour and with four games to go we were still in the driving seat…just.

That would all change when York City smashed our recent run of home victories by stunning the Cobblers at Sixfields and recording a 2-0 win that finally put us back down in the playoff positions. It would be the beginning of the end in terms of an automatic promotion challenge with Adam Chambers’ early strike doubled by John Johnson’s own goal with five minutes to play earning the Minster Men a crucial victory in their bid to avoid the drop.

The following Tuesday night saw a trip to Wycombe Wanderers give us a chance to get back into contention one final time realistically but a goalless draw wasn’t enough to breath any fresh hope into the challenge.

Port Vale away was up next in the final away league fixture and the hosts were gunning for promotion which they knew would come their way with a victory. Clarke Carlisle hadn’t read the script and put us in front but former Cobbler Liam Chilvers levelled before half-time. Roy O’ Donovan’s screamer momentarily gave us hope of a big victory as he curled in an unstoppable effort from range mid-way through the second half. It looked as though Vale would have to wait for their promotion party but with four minutes to go their former defender Lee Collins sliced the ball into his own net and with results elsewhere going for them, Port Vale knew that a point was enough to send them into League One barring a disastrous turn in goal difference.

For Town, the point at Vale Park confirmed a playoff place and we could now only finish 5th or 6th with home advantage in the playoffs all that was to be at stake come the final game of the season. For visitors to Sixfields Barnet, though, there were much bigger consequences. They would be relegated if they lost and AFC Wimbledon won. The Wombles managed to win their own game to give themselves a chance and the Cobblers scored two good second half goals through Roy O’Donovan and Luke Guttridge to clinch victory and to send Barnet down to the Conference after years of them surviving on the final day.

It meant that we had finished sixth after Rotherham clinched the final automatic promotion place and Cheltenham and Burton Albion both did enough to finish higher than the Cobblers. Cheltenham would provide the opposition for the playoff semi-finals and were the only team standing between us and a trip to Wembley.

The first leg would be played at Sixfields and was as tight as expected but the Cobblers took the lead in the first half thanks to fantastic build up play between Bayo Akinfenwa and Chris Hackett with Hackett crossing for Roy O’Donovan to fire in past Scott Brown in the Cheltenham goal who could and maybe should have done better. Paul Benson nearly equalised right away for the Rubies but the Cobblers would hold out to take a single goal lead to Whaddon Road for the second leg.

Early on in that game Cheltenham had an ideal chance to transform the game after Ben Tozer conceded a debatable penalty in front of the travelling support. But Marlon Pack’s spot kick was superbly saved by Lee Nicholls to keep us narrowly in front. Then came the killer moment in the tie when Bayo knocked the ball down for Luke Guttridge to unleash an unstoppable volley into the net from all of twenty five yards for a 2-0 aggregate lead. The second half saw Cheltenham pile on the pressure but despite hitting the bar and testing Nicholls again on several occasions it was the Cobblers who were heading to Wembley for the first time since 1998.

Excitement built for the next two weeks with tickets selling well and anticipation matching that of the previous two outings at the national stadium but we knew that Bradford City would provide stern opposition after the Bantams, already having visiting Wembley once that season for a remarkable League Cup final appearance, saw off Burton Albion over two legs in the other semi-final.


When the big day arrived it was to be one to forget as soon as the game kicked off as Bradford completely overpowered us and raced into a 3-0 lead before the break and the dreams of 20,000+ Cobblers fans had died a sudden death on the big stage. There was no way back for us despite Akinfenwa coming off the bench in the second half (we will forever question why he was left out of the starting eleven!) and Bradford cruised into League One, leaving us to ponder another campaign in the basement division.

It had, though, been a tremendous improvement on the previous two campaigns and I don’t think many of us would have predicted that the 2012/13 season would end at Wembley after two relegation battles that preceded it. Away form ultimately cost us automatic promotion and a late season injury to captain Kelvin Langmead certainly didn’t help the cause with the Player of the Season winner only returning late in the second leg of the playoff semi-final.

Aidy Boothroyd, though, had got the very best from his players and we now look forward to what will be an interesting summer with Bayo among several players told that they will now be leaving the club at the end of their contracts.

Hopefully by the time I come to write this again in a year’s time we will be celebrating going that crucial next step further after falling at the very last hurdle this time out.

League Position (at the end of the season): 6th

Highlight of April/May: The playoff semi-final victory over Cheltenham that confirmed our trip to Wembley. Also, the Wembley trip up until 1:30pm!

Lowlight of April/May: Wembley post 1:30pm…

NTFC Season in Review 2012/13: March

O' Donovan...crucial goal

O’ Donovan…crucial goal


March would begin with another hiding away from home as the Cobblers travelled to playoff chasing rivals Exeter City. Lee Nicholls put the ball into his own net in the first half before further goals from Jamie Cureton and Jake Gosling sealed a comfortable victory for the Grecians.

The Sixfields form, however, was still keeping Town afloat in the promotion hunt and Accrington Stanley were the next to be beaten at the fortress thanks to Chris Hackett’s early strike and Roy O’Donovan’s goal on the half hour mark.

Next up we were on the road again, this time visiting a Morecambe side that sat in mid-table with the final furlong of the season beginning. They took the lead just before the hour mark thanks to a well taken Jack Redshaw goal and it looked like we were going home empty handed once again from an away trip until that man Kelvin Langmead fired in yet another late, late goal to snatch a point for Aidy Boothroyd’s men.

The following week Oxford United were the next team to try and break what was turning into a formidable home record and it was a tight, tense affair with the U’s looking for the points that would take themselves back towards playoff contention. It was settled in the end by a coolly taken Ben Harding goal in first half stoppage time and the Cobblers had kept themselves right in the race for a top three finish.

It was a similar story in the final game of the month, a Good Friday clash with Torquay United, though this time the Cobblers left it late to grab the latest home victory. It was on a knife edge until Roy O’ Donovan took the roof off Sixfields with a fine finish with five minutes to go, keeping us in third place as March turned into April.

League Position (at the end of the month): 3rd

Highlight of the month: O’Donovan’s timely goal against Oxford that kept us in the top three.

Lowlight of the month: The defeat at Exeter was another example of a giant collapse away from home.

NTFC Season in Review 2012/13: February

Mohsni...Sent off as Cobblers win at Roots Hall

Mohsni…Sent off as Cobblers win at Roots Hall

After defeat at one promotion rival, Gillingham, at the end of January, the Cobblers travelled to another at the start of February with Rotherham the destination this time. The Millers were on a three game losing run going into the game but that was ended when Daniel Nardiello’s spot kick was added to by Ben Pringle and David Noble late in the game to give them all three points. Clarke Carlisle got one back in stoppage time for a Cobblers side struggling to find momentum away from Sixfields.

We were still well involved in the running for the top seven despite the back-to-back defeats and Sixfields was starting to become a fortress with Rochdale the next visitors. Clive Platt headed in from a Chris Hackett cross to give the Cobblers the lead but Jason Kennedy had ‘Dale, back on form after the return of Keith Hill as manager a few weeks earlier, on level terms. The scores didn’t remain level for long, though, as Kelvin Langmead grabbed the latest in a line of goals by poking in from close range. With fifteen minutes to go, Chris Hackett was tripped and Bayo Akinfenwa stepped up to seal the points.

There was an interesting sub-plot to the next fixture, away at Southend, with the Shrimpers’ mercurial talent Bilel Mohsni returning to the side for the first time in nine months. The controversial figure was always likely to leave his mark on the game and it proved to be in our favour when he was sent off half an hour in, this after new loan signing Roy O’Donovan had given the Cobblers the lead. There was never going to be a better chance to get back on track away from home for Town but Matty Lund equalised for the ten men mid-way through the second half. We looked to have let a massive chance go until that man Langmead once again headed in a stoppage time goal to nick a crucial victory and we were back in the playoff places having been knocked out of them in midweek thanks to others playing when we didn’t.

Next up was another away day, this time at AFC Wimbledon on a chilly Tuesday night. The game was delayed when the stadium’s lights went out just fifteen minutes before kick-off and when it did get going the Cobblers were slow out of the blocks. Alan Bennett gave the home side the lead as they looked to leap off the foot of the table but after a second half reshuffle by Aidy Boothroyd Town got back into gear and won a penalty through O’Donovan being brought down by veteran keeper Neil Sullivan. Akinfenwa stepped up to coolly slot in the spot kick and to earn a point, though Chris Hackett could easily have won it late on.

Still, four points from two away games was a big improvement and now we had to back it up at Sixfields again with two home games seeing out the month. First up came Plymouth Argyle and in a tight contest, Clive Platt got the only goal after a mistake from Jake Cole allowed him to scramble the ball home.

Bristol Rovers provided the last opposition of February and it was a similar, if more dramatic, story for this one with Town leaving it very, very late to win it through a neatly taken Ben Harding chip which meant that it was seven victories in a row at Sixfields.

With just eleven games to go we were right in the mix for the top three, sitting just a point away from Burton Albion going into the crucial month of March.

League Position (at the end of the month): 4th

Highlight of the month: Another Langmead moment at Southend, scoring the winner in stoppage time.

Lowlight of the month: The only defeat of the month, 3-1 at Rotherham United.

NTFC Season in Review 2012/13: January

Langers...late strike at Southend

Langers…late strike at Southend

2013 kicked off with a home game against Dagenham and Redbridge and the Cobblers would start the new year in style. Abu Ogogo scored an own goal to give us the lead and Chris Hackett had made it two before half-time with a fine finish. Ben Tozer’s long throw resulted in Kelvin Langmead sealing it with a third just after the break and despite a Scott Doe deflected effort at the other end beating Lee Nicholls Town had three points to start the year with.

We were back at Sixfields again four days later with sixth placed Fleetwood Town the visitors. Jake Robinson continued a good run of form by netting a first half brace that gave us another 2-0 half time lead. Clive Platt added a third and just as the week before the visitors got a late consolation, with Jamie Allen firing in for the Cod Army. It was back to back wins, though, for the Cobblers and Sixfields was starting to become a fortress with the beginning of a home run that would be the backbone of a push for promotion.

It was form on the road holding us back, though, and there was no more prime example than a trip to Chesterfield that saw us down and out within twenty five minutes. Marc Richards got his inevitable goals against his former club after Jay O’ Shea had put the Spireites in front and it was game over before we’d even go going with one saving grace that it got no worse than 3-0.

There was better things to come back at home, though, as a patient Cobblers battled to a 1-0 win over fellow playoff chasers Burton Albion with Bayo Akinfenwa’s header from a Tozer throw in enough to take us into the playoff places in League Two.

Snow was playing havoc with the fixture list with the Burton game only getting the go ahead late on and we would play in a complete snow storm at Aldershot the following Tuesday with the famous orange ball getting a run out! Daniel Lopez scored for the hosts after just two minutes but the Cobblers turned things around when Chris Hackett scored from the spot and Clarke Carlisle headed in from a corner. The victory took us momentarily into the top three with a promotion challenge now a genuine possibility.

The final game of January was a tough one, though, at high flying Gillingham and Town succumbed to goals at the start and end of the game by Cody McDonald and Myles Weston. That win took the Gills back to the top of League Two whilst the Cobblers dropped to fourth place, though it had been an excellent month for the club.

League Position (at the end of the month): 4th

Highlight of the month: The snowy win at Aldershot.

Lowlight of the month: The 3-0 first half collapse at Chesterfield.