With 16 games gone and the month of November upon us, my club Northampton Town are currently sitting 15th in League 2 with 21 points which breaks down into six wins, three draws and seven defeats. It’s been a very up-and-down season so far and here is a month-by-month look at how it has panned out.
Northampton fans were full of optimism as Chris Wilder looked to take charge of his first full season at Sixfields and the Cobblers started the season in the best possible way, with a solid 1-0 home win over Mansfield, before gaining a point away at last season’s Play-Off Semi-Finalists, York. Two disappointing performances followed however, with a 2-0 away defeat against Andy Awford’s strong Portsmouth side before we scraped a 1-1 draw against Shrewsbury who were forced to play much of the match with just ten men. Spirits were lifted again in the next game though, as Marc Richards’ fantastic 90th minute goal gave the Cobblers a 1-0 win against Exeter. In a month which yielded eight league points, the Cobblers fans also experience two very different Capital One Cup ties against Championship opposition; Wolves were dispatched 3-2 in what was a memorable night at Molineux before a Bournemouth thrashed us 3-0.
Northampton started September in the best possible way with a brilliant 2-0 win against Dagenham & Redbridge with Marc Richards scoring two and extending his tally for the season to four. Next up was Newport County where the Cobblers failed to build on two league wins in a row as we slipped to only our second defeat of the season. The wrongs were righted though just three days later as Hartlepool were dispatched emphatically; Richards again helped himself to a couple whilst Kaid Mohammed and Lawson D’Ath also netted. It was an excellent attacking performance which whetted the appetite ahead Accrington’s trip to Sixfields, but in true Cobblers style, our Jekyll and Hyde personality reared its ugly head again and we crashed to a ridiculous 5-4 defeat, despite a brave late fightback. The month was concluded in the same way it begun, with an away win, this time at Morecambe. It put us in a commanding league position of 5th and set us up perfectly for what would be a tough October, which turned out to be nothing more than dreadful.
On the face of it a 1-1 draw away against Wycombe looked like a very strong way to kick-off the month but, considering that the home sides equaliser came with less than ten seconds of the match remaining (and in very controversial circumstances), it was in fact a bitter pill to swallow. A home match against high-flyers Burton followed and was settled by a fantastic Alex MacDonald free-kick and finished 2-1 to the Brewers. This defeat spelt the beginning of an awful run where the Cobblers lost against Cheltenham, Oxford and, perhaps most painfully, Luton Town thanks to a last-gasp Luke Guttridge winner. The shocking run meant we did not win a league game in October and only gained a solitary point. To make matters worse throughout the month we were without key players such as Richards, Zander Diamond, Ian Morris and Lee Collins due to injury and results meant that we slipped all the way down to 18th place by the end of the month.
Whilst we are still only at the very start of November, and have only played one game, it has already been a month of talking points. The 2-0 win over Wimbledon looks on paper a fairly ordinary League 2 match for the Cobblers but it was of course the win which helped us break out of was a poor run for the Cobblers and hopefully spells a fresh start as we approach the festive period. The result also provided the defence with the first clean sheet since September 27th and, in what was an emotional moment for everyone attached to the club, it was a game which saw Alex Nicholls score his first goal for the club in more than two years after a horrendous broken leg injury sustained in October 2012 after a dreadful tackle from Port Vale defender John McCombe. Alex has shown remarkable bravery in being able to make his return to first-team action and epitomised what it is to be a Cobbler. He had already scored eight goals for the club after joining in the summer of 2012 and was on his way to becoming a fans favourite. Hopefully his return to fitness will mean he will be able to continue what he started all those months ago.
Things are once again looking up for Northampton. The injury crisis is beginning to ease up and, after the win against Wimbledon, the Cobblers players will hopefully have regained some of the confidence that had been chipped away at in October. Two tough cup games are next against League 1 sides before a few games against local opposition which will hopefully encourage big numbers of supporters to come down and supports the Cobblers. Chris Wilder’s side has shown plenty of signs that they can compete this season and, despite setbacks, hopefully that’s exactly what they’ll be able to do.
Written by Liam Raggett, We Are Going Up’s Northampton Town blogger
Liam tweets at @LiamRaggett