A Perfect Ten!

MarquisThere’s just no stopping the Cobblers and a relentless run towards League One. Victory at York City on Tuesday night was the TENTH in a row and shot us to twelve points clear of Plymouth in second place, making this sequence mean more and more by the game. The latest chapter on the path to glory meant that a quick fire double was recorded against the Minstermen and it was again a fully deserved reward for an accomplished away performance.

At this stage of the season, teams are either fighting for their lives, gunning for promotion or standing an outside chance of the playoffs with not many sides having nothing to play for. York well and truly fall into the first category and we know first-hand how much of a struggle it can be to play against teams battling for their lives – we were one of them a couple of years ago.

So it was never a formality by any means as we headed north, backed by an impressive following of over 400. Those hardy souls came back fully rewarded while disbelief of what’s happening this season again spread across the country. More records are down – that’s the eighth away win in a row for Town – and there just seems to be immense levels of quality and togetherness roaring through this squad.

Losing Marc Richards, Town’s top scorer, would usually be a disaster at this stage of the season. Instead, John Marquis was brought in on loan and he put in a heck of a shift at Bootham Crescent including a (re)debut goal. John-Joe O’Toole missed out through injury…again a big loss on the basis of the last few months but Jason Taylor came in and was a rock in front of the back four alongside Danny Rose. Ricky Holmes was rested and started on the bench but the Cobblers still had attacking guile in abundance. The squad is as good as I’ve seen since I started watching us in the early nineties, the football we’re playing is a terrific blend of heart, commitment and pass and move action and we just feel like we’re going to score in every game.

James Collins grabbed another for his growing tally on Tuesday night and he’s another that’s come in and slotted seamlessly in to a system that’s been perfectly drilled by the management team that’s starting to etch their names in history.

Chris Wilder and Alan Knill deserve so much credit for this season but they’re both still very business-like in their approach to the media. There’s no hyperbole about them, no expectations coming from their interviews and you can tell that the ship is hugely tight. If we can hold on for a few more games, the first bottles of champagne can be popped.

Nothing is ever set in stone until points are on the board but this is close as we’ll ever get with 16 games to go to being so positive that we’re going up. Whether we’ll do that as champions is another matter but there really is now no reason why we shouldn’t be adjusting our dreams to include the lifting of silverware – something that a generation of Cobblers fans have never seen.

Long, long, long may this continue…the punch marks on my body are growing by the week but what a ride this is!

It goes on and on and on…

wilder.gif-470993There have been times in the past where I’ve run out of things to write on this blog because runs of form have been so desperate and games have just moulded into one week after week. Indeed two years ago when Chris Wilder took charge, Town were in a position six points adrift at the bottom of the Football League. His appointment seemed more like a preparation for the Conference than a bid to beat the drop, such was the shocking nature of our performances. There was no end in sight.

Two years later and I’m sat here with a bit of writer’s block for very different reasons. This time I’ve already used up all the superlatives, run out of times when I can say what an incredible run it’s been and how it’s a remarkable reversal from almost going out of business in November. Each victory is edging this incredible Cobblers team to new heights of history. You keep expecting the run to end, looking for edgy parts of a day that might bring us down to earth. But every test, as in the windy embers of Sixfields against the league’s bottom club York City on Saturday, is being brushed aside by a group of players that have become heroes this season.

There’s also an element of the season that’s making even the most pessimistic Town fans believe – goal line clearances from York chances, for example, came seconds before our goals on Saturday – that barring an absolute collapse the team that were within days of being torn apart earlier in the season could well be starting next season in League One.

So what more to say? Well, York can be praised for their efforts on Saturday for one – the difficult conditions affected both sides and they could well have come away with something on another day. I’m convinced that they’ll be OK in their own relegation scrap…both ends of the table are looking like having dramatic conclusions and there’s a heck of a lot of points to go for.

The next three games for the Cobblers could well be defining. Trips to Leyton Orient, buoyant under new player/manager Kevin Nolan and to promotion rivals Oxford United in the coming days will royally test our nerve before Wycombe come to town in ten days’ time.

The newly strengthened squad including the final piece in the puzzle in Luke Prosser, signed on loan on deadline day, means that we’re equipped to cope with anything that League Two has to throw at us for the rest of the season.

As the finish line slowly creeps up, there’s always going to be that element of being there to be shot down but after every examination we’ve battled through already this season there’s no sense at all that any set back would affect this squad.

Again, really weird to be so optimistic but seeing the Cobblers on top of a league is something I honestly thought I wouldn’t see for many, many years so we have to ride on the crest of this glorious wave.

York fans set ‘Ride to Northampton’ target

York-city-club-badge-jh-md-deWe were fierce opponents on Saturday afternoon but come February and ahead of our next meeting with York City we’ll all see a different and refreshing side of football as a group of Minstermen fans will be cycling from York to Northampton. This isn’t just your standard fundraiser, either, as it all came about after the tragic death of Cobblers fan David Henderson following last season’s fixture between the clubs at Sixfields.

All money raised from the bike ride – which has already confirmed ten City fans to be taking part – will be donated to the British Heart Foundation in Mr Henderson’s memory.

Ian Jones, one of those taking part, explained:

The idea for the fundraiser was first sparked by seeing the events that followed last season’s fixture at Sixfields first hand and was something that touch all fans of both teams, not just myself. We all have our stories of how we have been influenced into the game or any sport, and usually it comes from a family member taking us to our first game and the following addiction begins. My dad has played a huge part in my love for my club and the game, and it only felt right to do something in honour and memory of Mr Henderson. When we were on the way back up north after the game, I had the idea in my head which is where it stayed for a while until I looked into it and then began to ask around friends who were at the game and also witnessed the events. They also jumped on the idea of a bike ride and from there it’s really started to take off.”

The ride will take place over three days in the build up to the Cobblers – York game on 21st February and Ian says they’ve set some clear targets in terms of distance per day as well as hoping to break their fundraising target.

“In terms of targets,” he said, “we’re looking at cycling 50 miles a day over 3 days which means setting off from Bootham Crescent on the 19th February to be in time for this year’s fixture at Northampton on the 21st of the month. In terms of donating, we really didn’t know how much we would get or how much we deserve, so we set the target at £1000 but without sounding greedy or big headed, I think all involved would love to smash that target and make as much as possible.”

“Training has already begun for some of us! Personally I’ve got 45 miles under my belt over the past three weeks which isn’t that impressive but saying I hadn’t ridden a bike in over three years it’s a start. We’re planning on getting all riders together at some point in the near future and having a day out to see what it’s like riding in a pack and sorting out a pace that we can all stick to.”

At the time of writing, the fundraising has reached £343 and Ian goes on to explain how you can get involved in following the project and donating:

“We have a twitter account (@ycfc_2_ntfc), which people will be able to keep up to date with all promotional work we do across all forms of media and also the progress the riders are making through the coming months. To donate, we have a Justgiving page here

On behalf of all Cobblers fans, thank you to everyone involved from York City and to all who have donated so far. The football family is alive and well thanks to class acts such as this.



Rico leaves it late to keep Town unbeaten


York City 1-1 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, August 16th 2014

Oh I do love a last minute goal to celebrate! When the Cobblers lined up a free kick in the dying seconds at Bootham Crescent on Saturday most of my negative nerves were screaming out that it was going over the stand, into the wall or well wide of target and that we’d be suffering defeat for the first time this season. But, for some reason, this season hasn’t begun like our normal stuttering style and Chris Wilder just won’t lie down away from home. Marc Richards stepped up, curled the ball past the wall and into the net without York’s keeper Jason Mooney even moving to stop it.

That strike meant that York had conceded three times in three games in stoppage time after a 1-1 draw against Tranmere last weekend and a 1-0 defeat at home to Doncaster on Tuesday night but the Cobblers had no sympathy and walked away with a point dragged back from a situation that looks all but lost. There had been hardly an attack from Town in the twenty minutes since they fell behind to Anthony Straker’s first goal for his new side.

Straker may not be able to completely claim the goal after his corner evaded everyone including a scrambling Matt Duke to nestle into the corner of the net mid-way through the second half but he’ll have as much thought for Duke as we did for his team late on. It had been a pretty even game up until that point with Town making occasional breaks through Ivan Toney – starting with Marc Richards up front with John-Joe O’Toole also playing at the tip of a three man midfield – causing plenty of problems.

Our old friend John McCombe was in the thick of the action on the half hour when it seemed like he pulled down Toney. It looked like McCombe was set for another red card against us until referee Darren Handley whipped out a yellow card for the Cobblers striker instead.

After the break, the home side were back on the ascendancy with Michael Coulson rattling the post before Straker’s bizarre corner floated all the way in. The Minstermen were looking like the more likely to score the second and kill us off but when the late free kick was given on the edge of the area there was that slither of hope that usually only works in giving you false optimism of happy ending to a Saturday afternoon.

Rico had other ideas of course and he’ll be the most relieved man in the side that the net rippled thanks to his effort. He took months and months to break his duck in his last tenure with the Cobblers, hitting the bar and post on numerous occasions and having his first goal erased from the record books after the “great winds” of the Huddersfield home game that had to be abandoned after he put us a goal in front. He’s returned a more experienced player and hopefully this is the start of him picking up where he left off.

The fixture clog up of early August continues on Tuesday evening with a trip to Portsmouth who will surely be amongst the front runners in League Two this season. Pompey are a different beast since their troubles of last term and if we remain unbeaten after that one then we’ll have done very well indeed at Fratton Park.

Wilder, though, is a stubborn opponent on the road and won’t let his side go down without the sort of fight we’ve already shown in the early goings so far.

York City v Northampton Town: Match Preview

York City Bootham Crescent

York City v Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, August 15th 2014

If the Cobblers are to complete what would be one of the best opening weeks of a season in recent memory by beating Saturday’s hosts York City then we’re going to have to pull something pretty special out of the bag. The Minstermen haven’t lost a regular league fixture since a 2-0 defeat at home to Chesterfield on January 28th with only the playoff semi-final reverse against eventual winners Fleetwood Town and Tuesday’s cup loss against Doncaster Rovers blotting the copybook of a remarkable run of results that took them from relegation candidates to within a game of Wembley last season.

City’s story so nearly had a happy ending but for that Fleetwood defeat in the first leg of the semis but Nigel Worthington’s men have reacted well in the summer to that set back and to key defender Lanre Oyebanjo joining Crawley Town. Worthington has brought in Marvin McCoy who racked up over ninety appearances for Wycombe Wanderers over four years as a replacement for Oyebanjo whilst also strengthening across the squad with Barnet’s Jake Hyde and Southend’s Anthony Straker coming in as well as the likes of Femi Ilesanmi from Dagenham and Redbridge, Luke Summerfield and Dave Winfield both from Shrewsbury Town and Jason Mooney from Tranmere Rovers.

The first two games of York’s season have both been all about last minute goals. On the opening day last weekend they were moments away from an impressive three points at Tranmere until James Rowe’s volley recused a point for the League Two newbies. Then, on Tuesday night in the Capital One Cup, League One’s Doncaster Rovers left it until stoppage time to nick a winner at Bootham Crescent.

It’s back in the league that York are so hard to stop, though, and as they prepare to try and repeat last season’s 1-0 win over the Cobblers on the opening day of the season (which came about thanks to their own last gasp winner following Darren Carter’s red card), Town will be hoping to round off what’s been a really positive first seven days of 2014/15.

Team work and inspired substitutions have been the order of the day so far from Chris Wilder and both will be called upon again once more at a ground where the Cobblers have won just once in their last eight visits, that being a 1-0 success on Bank Holiday Monday in August 1999.

There’s plenty of battles for places in the starting line-up for Wilder to consider. Chris Hackett, Darren Carter and Emile Sinclair all look to be over the injuries that kept them out of the Wolves game while Lawson D’Ath’s brace at Molineux after coming off the bench will have given his boss food for thought. There’s also the issue of whether Ivan Toney keeps his place after a strong cameo against Mansfield and a solid showing and goal at Wolves with Marc Richards and John-Joe O’Toole also vying for position.

All very good problems to have though, especially considering that York have one or two injury worries up front. Striker Ryan Jarvis will be out for up to three weeks after coming off against Doncaster on a stretcher thanks to an ankle injury and he’s added to a list that contains Josh Carson on the absent list. The good news for the Minstermen is that Wes Fletcher has completed two weeks of training and could feature and Jake Hyde could also make his debut. Sixteen year old Ben Hirst is also chomping at the bit for a starting place and could get the nod to partner Michael Coulson up front should Fletcher and Hyde not be available from the start.

Plenty to ponder, then, for both managers ahead as the season kicks well and truly into gear. If the Cobblers can end this long unbeaten streak then it’ll have been the perfect start to a long season.

Northampton Town v York City: Match Preview

sixfieldsNorthampton Town v York City

League Two

Saturday, January 11th 2014

On the opening day of the season, York City dealt a blow to the Cobblers that kick started a five month period of utter despair and ended with Aidy Boothroyd’s departure from the club. As we prepare to do battle with the Minster Men again, this time at Sixfields, Andy King is hoping that the squad continues to fight for his cause with victory over City likely to lead to him getting the job on a more full time basis.

King has masterminded a solid run of away performances and results in the last three games that have put us back on the brink of climbing off the bottom of the table. He’s done enough to fight off any other possible candidates over the last couple of weeks and this could well be his final plea to David Cardoza in his first home game leading the side.

York have been on their own mission to get out of trouble over the Christmas and New Year period and come to Sixfields having lost just once in eight games. That run started with five straight draws but, after defeat at Bury, they’ve just won back to back games at the start of 2014. A single goal victory over Morecambe on New Year’s Day was followed by a 3-1 win against Dagenham and Redbridge last weekend thanks to a Ryan Bowman strike and a double from Wes Fletcher.

All that has seen them rise to seventeenth in League Two but Nigel Worthington’s men are only six points ahead of the Cobblers so it’s a big chance for us to bring them right back into the pack.

We’re likely to name our new manager by next week so this is probably the last chance for King to audition – victory against the Minster Men and you would think the job will be his.

Soccer - The FA Carlsberg Trophy - Final - Newport County v York City - Wembley Stadium

Blair…new signing

There have been plenty of ins and outs for both sides over the last week, meaning that there could be a whole load of debutants on show. The Cobblers yesterday drafted in Matty Blair on a month’s loan from Fleetwood Town with the winger going straight into the squad for a game against the club that he helped to win the FA Trophy and the Conference Playoffs in 2012. Joe Widdowson’s injury also meant that Andy King was short of a left back so he dipped into the loan market once again to sign Sheffield United man Sean McGinty, also on a month long deal. McGinty started his career at Charlton Athletic before moving to Manchester United as a youngster. After several loan moves, he signed for the Blades in the summer of last year. He also should slot straight into the Cobblers side this afternoon. Going out the door, though, is Clive Platt who was released from the club this week. Hallam Hope and Antonio German should lead the line once again today after they both started at Newport last week with Hope notching a debut goal. Danny Emerton will miss the game with a broken nose.

York could hand debuts to new signings as well with midfielder Russell Penn arriving from Cheltenham Town this week and Adam Reed signing from Burton Albion. Keith Lowe has also made his loan spell a permanent one and all three should feature at Sixfields. Ryan Jarvis, who scored the winner in the last game between the sides back in August, is a doubt with a thigh injury.


Previous Six Meetings…

03/08/13: York 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)

On the opening day of this season, Darren Carter marked his Cobblers debut by getting sent off before Ryan Jarvis netted the only goal of the game in stoppage time.

13/04/13: Cobblers 0-2 York (League Two)

The Cobblers went into this one on the back of a ten game winning run at home but York, breathing fresh life under Nigel Worthington, hadn’t read the script and Ashley Chambers gave them an early lead. John Johnson’s own goal sealed the win for the visitors and left Town’s hopes of automatic promotion flagging.

06/12/12: York 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)

On a cold December Tuesday night, Matty Blair gave City the lead mid-way through the first half and it looked like his side were on the way to all three points when Cobblers striker Louis Moult was sent off just before half-time. But Bayo Akinfenwa popped up to score for ten man Town on the hour mark and we held out for a good point at Bootham Crescent.

17/01/04: Cobblers 2-1 York (League Two)

As the Cobblers were getting used to the new management team under Colin Calderwood, the progression towards an eventual playoff place was helped by an important home win here. Richard Walker got us off the mark on twenty minutes before Jon Parkin’s own goal doubled our lead. Lee Bullock got one back late on but Town had done enough for three crucial points.

16/08/03: York 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)

The Cobblers’ first away game of the 2003/04 season saw us sink to a single goal defeat at Bootham Crescent with Lee Nogan’s strike right on the stroke of half time enough to win it for the home side.

05/02/00: Cobblers 3-0 York (League Two)

A comfortable afternoon at Sixfields for the Cobblers with goals from Ian Sampson, Steve Howard and Sean Parrish helping Kevin Wilson’s men towards what would be automatic promotion from League Two.

The man in the middle…

Graham Scott is the man in charge at Sixfields. Scott has mainly been officiating in the Championship and League One this season and last oversaw a Cobblers game in our 2-1 win at Southend in February of last year, sending off the Shrimpers’ Bilel Mohsni.


It’s pretty much make or break for Andy King this weekend and the players have been challenged to keep up their recent improvements in order to keep him in charge. York are on decent form but I think this could just be the weekend that we get off the bottom and start looking forwards. I’ll go for a 2-1 Cobblers win.

Late defeat, red card, football is back!

Carter...red card

Carter…red card

York City 1-0 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, August 3rd 2013

Yep…this sounds about right. Long away trip, high expectations, not a lot happening then a red card and a late winner as we lose by the single goal. Oh, football is back all right!

Aidy Boothroyd said a week ago that we weren’t ready and despite a couple of decent signings this week it appears that’s still the case after chances were few and far between at Bootham Crescent with a 4-5-1 formation that saw Roy O’Donovan leading the line alone. To be fair, there’s still a key cog or two to come in with Chris Hackett missing this one whilst a striker is surely still on Aidy Boothroyd’s shopping list but that doesn’t make yet another disappointing opening day of the season any easier to bear.

The match itself didn’t seem to be a classic and could easily have drifted into a goalless draw that would have satisfied most inside the ground and the first half raced by with the home side looking most likely to take the early season by the scruff of the neck. But with around twenty minutes to play, new boy Darren Carter saw red for his second bookable offence and any hope we had of claiming all three points vanished. Roy O’Donovan had earlier smashed the cross bar as Town got more of a grip on the game but the red card gave the Minstermen the left they needed.

It was so nearly a repeat of last season’s trip to Bootham Crescent with the Cobblers claiming a point with ten men but with just a minute to play a cross from Ashley Chambers was cleared only as far as former Cobblers loan man Ryan Jarvis who slotted in the only goal of the game with no time for a Cobblers recovery.

With a six man bench made up with plenty of youngsters there’s still a lot of questions to be answered for the Cobblers as this season clicks into gear and this defeat will do nothing to convince anyone that last season’s away form will be sorted.

But it’s still very early days and there’s time to get the right players in for the long haul rather than panic and bring in a quick fix. I’m suspecting that Liam Dickinson is still in with a shout of a contract once his latest injury clears up in what could be a week’s time and who knows what else is going on behind the scenes.

To me, this is another one of those defeats that if it happens on a Tuesday night in mid-season it doesn’t get a lot of attention but because it’s the opening day there’s immediate panic stations being set up. Plenty of teams have suffered more than we have this afternoon and we’ve just got to try and put it behind us and hope for the best in the coming weeks rather than predicting the doom and gloom of seasons gone by.

Remember…last time we won on the opening day was a 4-2 success over Cheltenham Town with Leon Constantine scoring (yes, he did that sometimes!) the clincher late on. That season saw us relegated whilst the 1997 and 2000 promotion seasons both began with away defeats (the 1997 one notable for us losing 2-1 at Wigan with TWO red cards, a late team bus and a subsequent fine!).

45 games to go to turn things around…

York City v Northampton Town: Match Preview

York City Bootham CrescentYork City v Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, August 3rd 2013

Here we are again…at the start of another nine months of hopes and dreams. A year ago we set out on a campaign that would, surprisingly, end up with the Cobblers running out at Wembley Stadium in the playoff final but twelve months on and we’re once again starting a League Two season after a disastrous half an hour at the national stadium. It’s been a summer of patiently waiting for signings with the majority of the captures coming in the final couple of weeks of pre-season but now the speculation can take a back seat to events on the pitch.

The first assignment for Boothroyd’s new look squad is a tricky trip to Bootham Crescent to take on York City, the side that ended a ten game winning Sixfields run back at the end of last season for Town. Nigel Worthington came in and turned the Minstermen’s fortunes around after replacing Gary Mills in early March, taking the club from relegation candidates to comfortable safety by the end of the season.

The summer has seen a few changes in playing staff for or hosts tomorrow afternoon with Richard Cresswell re-joining the club on a permanent basis after a short stint on loan towards the end of last season. Cresswell began his career at York and came through the ranks before making his name in the first team and earning a move to Sheffield Wednesday in 1999. Fourteen years and six clubs on and Cresswell is back at the age of thirty five to try and spearhead City’s attack in their second season back in the Football League.

Other notable additions over the summer include former Burnley striker Wes Fletcher, midfielder Lewis Montrose who joined from Gillingham and the loan signing of Ben Davies from Preston North End.

With both sides looking to get going with a bang and the excitement of the new season finally arriving it should be a cracking atmosphere and a tight contest to kick off another tension filled season.


Cresswell…another York debut

Team News

Wes Fletcher is the only new arrival that is struggling for fitness ahead of the big kick off with an ankle injury. Otherwise, Sander Puri and Lewis Montrose are amongst those debuting whilst Richard Cresswell makes another ‘debut’ after signing a permanent deal over the summer.

The Cobblers will definitely be without skipper Kelvin Langmead who has had an operation that will keep him out for at least the next two months. Alex Nicholls continues his recovery from the broken leg suffered year while Clive Platt and Chris Hackett are probably not going to be fit in time for this one. There should be debuts, though, for most of Town’s summer signings including Matt Duke, Kevin Amankwaah, Ian Morris, Danny Emerton, Matt Heath, Darren Carter and Gary Deegan.

Previous Six Meetings…

13/04/13: Cobblers 0-2 York (League Two)

The Cobblers went into this one on the back of a ten game winning run at home but York, breathing fresh life under Nigel Worthington, hadn’t read the script and Ashley Chambers gave them an early lead. John Johnson’s own goal sealed the win for the visitors and left Town’s hopes of automatic promotion flagging.

06/12/12: York 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)

On a cold December Tuesday night, Matty Blair gave City the lead mid-way through the first half and it looked like his side were on the way to all three points when Cobblers striker Louis Moult was sent off just before half-time. But Bayo Akinfenwa popped up to score for ten man Town on the hour mark and we held out for a good point at Bootham Crescent.

17/01/04: Cobblers 2-1 York (League Two)

As the Cobblers were getting used to the new management team under Colin Calderwood, the progression towards an eventual playoff place was helped by an important home win here. Richard Walker got us off the mark on twenty minutes before Jon Parkin’s own goal doubled our lead. Lee Bullock got one back late on but Town had done enough for three crucial points.

16/08/03: York 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)

The Cobblers’ first away game of the 2003/04 season saw us sink to a single goal defeat at Bootham Crescent with Lee Nogan’s strike right on the stroke of half time enough to win it for the home side.

05/02/00: Cobblers 3-0 York (League Two)

A comfortable afternoon at Sixfields for the Cobblers with goals from Ian Sampson, Steve Howard and Sean Parrish helping Kevin Wilson’s men towards what would be automatic promotion from League Two.

30/08/99: York 0-1 Cobblers (League Two)

On a sunny bank holiday Monday, the Cobblers ran out 1-0 winners thanks to an unfortunate own goal from Chris Fairclough, who saw the ball deflect off the post and into the net via his body after Duncan Spedding had come close with the initial effort.

The Man in the middle…

The opening day of the season referee for this one is Charles Breakspear who is in his first season in the Football League after spending all of last season officiating in the Conference. Breakspear showed ninety one yellow cards and six reds during that time and was the man in charge of the Conference Playoff Semi-Final between Wrexham and Kidderminster Harriers.


Any away game on the first day of the season is going to be tough and it’ll be no different at Bootham Crescent where York will be looking to build on a good end to last season. With new signings still bedding in and a couple of injuries still niggling away at us I think I’d be happy with a point to kick the season off. 1-1

Fortress breached!

Chambers...City opener

Chambers…City opener

Northampton Town 0-2 York City

League Two

Saturday, April 13th 2013

The run that’s taken the Cobblers into this race for promotion has almost entirely been forged on the back of home form. Sixfields has become a place to recuperate from away defeats, a sanctuary where we know that results are best achieved. But on Saturday afternoon, the fortress was breached and, combined with other results going gloriously against us, that led to the near collapse of dreams of automatic promotion.

The Minstermen were likely dark horses despite their league position, rejuvenated under their new boss, former Northern Ireland chief Nigel Worthington and coming into the game looking to jump out of the bottom three. It’s a similar situation to the one we found ourselves in a little over a year ago. Aidy Boothroyd had brought his own brand of football in, turned the club around and helped us to safety. Worthington still has work to do but is well on course on the back of this display that overpowered the Cobblers and sunk us into questions of even making the playoffs.

The one saving grace in that respect was that Exeter City and Chesterfield – the two chasing sides – picked up just a point and have just six to play for each. Town now sit in sixth place with just one more win needed to guarantee a spot in that lottery. There’s still outside hope of somehow toppling the likes of Burton, Cheltenham and Rotherham to climb back to third place but the performance against York appears to have suddenly sent us all into gloom.

But what if this was exactly what we needed? I remember back in the year 2000 when the plucky Halifax Town came to Sixfields needing points for their own battle against the drop. The Cobblers had just lost at Plymouth but were a shoe in to bounce back. 3-2 up at the break, it looked like early jitters had been redeemed until Halifax fought back in dramatic style to first draw level and then win it in stoppage time.

The Cobblers went on to win their final six games that followed, culminating in a day that we will never forget at Torquay when all three sides (one was in the process of being built) of the ground were rocking with sections of Town fans. Now I’m not saying that we’re about to win all of our remaining fixtures to nip in for third place but it’s an example of things looking dire and suddenly turning around.

I remember feeling that it was all over on that day against the men from the Shay and I’m getting similar feelings from many after this defeat to York. There are, of course, only three games to go but rather than seeing this as the doom and gloom that it could be, we should perhaps be relieved that we’ve been ‘found out’ at home at least in time for the playoffs which are looking like a worst case scenario.

You have to give credit to York themselves who sounded like they came to Sixfields to play football and come away with more than just a point. They left with all three and good luck to them. This was a moment that they will look back on as key if they’re to stay in the Football League.

What Aidy Boothroyd needs to do now is to make the changes that most supporters can see are needed and be bold enough to really go for it for these three cup finals that we now face. Luke Guttridge needs to start to liven up a midfield that seems bent on caution and unfortunately for Bayo, the Beast Mode era appears to have stalled. Clive Platt, if fit, should be handed his chance once again.

Let’s concentrate on that Wycombe game. It’s a last chance to bring ourselves to the brink of being in with a chance of the top three again. Five points separate us from Burton who stole a crucial 1-0 win against Plymouth deep into stoppage time on Saturday and if we can somehow make that gap two points then it’s game on again no matter who the opposition are on Saturday.

Yes, alright it’s Port Vale who will be in search of the points they need to win promotion themselves. But let’s worry about that once Tuesday is over. If Aidy can dip into his locker and pull something, anything out of it for the trip to Adams Park it not only gives the players belief again but also gives the supporters something to cling on to. One more win is needed for the playoffs, three for a chance at automatic promotion. It’s very unlikely but when have we ever done things simply, without taking the supporters on a roller coaster journey before the final reckoning?

Keep the faith and keep holding on to anything you can…this is NOT over yet.

Carlisle return to Cobblers!

Carlisle…back at Sixfields!

In a quick fire, unexpected move this afternoon, Clarke Carlisle returned to Sixfields from York City. In what will be a permanent deal come January, Carlisle signs for his second stint having helped to steer us to safety last season. Carlisle delayed his decision in the summer, we all wished him luck and off he went up north but now he’s back – handily with a few months of match fitness behind him – and straight into the squad for tomorrow’s game with Morecambe.

It’s a great piece of business in my eyes. Carlisle clearly still has the drive to make things work and we know all about his quality from the back end of last season. With so many young kids coming through and playing at the moment it’s good timing that an experience head like Carlisle can come in to help their development and hopefully be involved in another successful spell – this time at the right end of the table I hope!

Since he’s been gone, the squad has been taken apart and put together again through one means or another but you can definitely see him slotting straight back into things. Come January and the return of David Artell there’s likely to be plenty of competition but two things must remain.

Kelvin Langmead has gone from strength to strength since being handed the captain’s armband and I think he needs to keep it. Taking it from him and putting it back on Carlisle may a step that’s being considered but I don’t think any of us were prepared for the Langmead that’s started this season. He’s stronger, faster and so much more focused that taking the captaincy off him might take some of that away. I’m not sure if that’s even in the plans but I feel that Carlisle doesn’t need it whereas Langmead is flourishing.

The other thing is that Ben Tozer needs to remain a defender. I’ve still not completely spotted completely what he brings to midfield and with Ben Harding and Chris Hackett returning and Lewis Hornby going great guns I wouldn’t like to see any of them taken out of a starting eleven.

What we do have is another top quality and proven player on our books to provide some healthy competition for these long winter weeks where games come thick and fast (the annual League Two snow-athon aside) so I can’t think off too much that’s wrong with this piece of transfer business.

Carlisle gets a quick chance to reacquaint himself with Town fans tomorrow evening and should at least be in the squad. A preview of that game should be up here by the morning.