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Northampton Town end of season review

Monday 12th May 2014
On May 18th, 2013, at 13:30, Northampton Town fans were just about to watch their side play in the League Two play-off final against Bradford City. After 30 minutes, the game was all but over, with Bradford racing into a three goal lead. It is unlikely that these fans, on that day, would have believed how delighted they were going to be on the final day of the 2013/14 season, albeit for a very different reason: victory over Oxford United confirmed that the Cobblers would be staying in the Football League for another season.

Hopes were high after the 12/13 season as Aidy Boothroyd set about tweaking his squad. Out went players such as John Johnson, Luke Guttridge, Ben Harding and fan favourite Adebayo Akinfenwa, while 13 players joined in the summer transfer window, including Matt Duke, Darren Carter and Gary Deegan. Carter's debut got off to a bad start on the first day of the season away at York City, as he was sent off, and the Cobblers went down 1-0 thanks to a late Ryan Jarvis goal. Despite then losing 2-1 at home to MK Dons in the League Cup, Northampton recorded their first win of the season in their first home league game, beating Newport County 3-1.

Unfortunately for Northampton fans, they wouldn't see their side win for another two months – and would have to wait until November 16th to see another home win. Five defeats in their next six games followed the win over Newport, including defeats to Torquay and Bristol Rovers, who were eventually relegated. On September 21st, the season reached a new low as the Cobblers were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Mansfield Town, a result which saw them slip into the relegation zone. They would stay there until the final two games of the season.

Despite picking up a few wins, Northampton were in serious danger of relegation, as well as having been beaten by Grimsby Town 2-0 in the FA Cup. On December 21st, following a 4-1 home reverse against Wycombe Wanderers, Boothroyd was sacked. New manager Chris Wilder came into the club from Oxford United at the end of January, charged with keeping the side in the division.

Having drawn with Cheltenham away from home in Wilder's first game in charge, hopes were high ahead of his first home game, against Plymouth Argyle. However, a 2-0 defeat against the Pilgrims meant that the Cobblers remained bottom and somewhat cut adrift at the bottom. A trip to fellow strugglers Torquay United gave the Town the chance to put things right, which they did, beating the Seagulls 2-1 thanks to two goals from loan signing Emile Sinclair. This was the catalyst for a great run, with just one defeat coming in the next seven games.

However, Northampton then only picked up three draws from their next five games, despite being at home four times in that spell. A last-gasp equaliser from AFC Wimbledon's Sammy Moore at Sixfields, a game in which Wimbledon had played with ten men for over an hour, left the situation precarious. Successive 1-0 wins over Accrington Stanley and Burton Albion gave the Cobblers a chance; there was everything to play for going into the final four games, against Wycombe, Portsmouth, Dagenham and Redbridge, and Oxford.

Wycombe and Northampton went into their game on the Bank Holiday Monday level on points, and finished it level on points, with Ricky Ravenhill's goal cancelled out by Aaron Pierre's strike soon afterwards. Despite losing their next game, 1-0 at home to Portsmouth, results elsewhere meant that Northampton, Wycombe and Bristol Rovers were all on 47 points going into the final two games. A magnificent performance away at Dagenham and Redbridge gave the Cobblers a precious win, with Ivan Toney scoring his first two league goals for the club, before the final day victory over Oxford United sparked a pitch invasion and brought much relief to Cobblers' fans.
Will Brown
Huge football fan, also a follower of tennis, cricket and athletics. Student at Durham University, where I study German and Spanish. Coventry City (live near Coventry during University holidays) and Union Berlin fan, after spending the summer of 2013 in Berlin. Currently living in Graz, Austria, and watching GAK 1902 from time to time.

Total articles: 14

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