Untold Non Lower League: Northampton Town 1-4 Wycombe Wanderers
Result: Another managerial casualty
Tony and I had intended to watch Poole Town (Tony’s local club when his parents moved out of London during his teenage years) travel to Corby Town today, but a waterlogged pitched scuppered that plan.
Instead we decided to visit Sixfields stadium and watch my local team, Northampton Town. As it happened we couldn’t have picked a more auspicious day as before Tony had even got home the Cobblers had parted company with their manager Aidy Boothroyd (AB).
The afternoon started well enough – once the young man in the ticket office had managed to find us two seats in the West Stand Upper (Tony insisted I sit in the posh seats for once) we set about finding some lunch. The pies were good value (£3), hot and tasty. There was a disappointing lack of Merlot however, so Mr. A was a little grumpy for a few moments, he settled for coffee (not cappuccino!) and all was well.
Seated, we remarked on what a tidy, modern ground it is and noted that the chairman, Mr. Cardoza, has improvement plans coming in the New Year with a new stand (on one side) although the existing one looks fine, and a hotel. Just a shame then that they don’t seem to have the quality on the pitch to match the ambitions of the stadium. Well not yet anyway. Northampton (the Cobblers) started second bottom of the league while Wycombe (a team owned by their fans – many of whom travelled and gave good support) were in relative mid table comfort.
Wycombe jubilant after 14 seconds
The game started in driving wind and rain. And with the wind blowing the rain and the ball towards the Cobblers’ keeper it boded ill for the home team from the start. And so it was – disaster struck within 14 seconds; Jo Kuffour scoring from a Nick Arnold cross. Wycombe were all over the home team, who found it hard to kick the ball out of their half in the fierce wind, and the early setback seemed to knock all confidence out of the lads in claret.
Wycombe’s manager seemed to have sent his team out with a shoot on sight policy and the wind was certainly helping them. A header by Dean Morgan found the net after 8 minutes but it was ruled offside, much to the home crowd’s amusement. It was a brief respite however.
With the away side well on top and Northampton unable to make any progress the natives were getting restless. Every poor pass was met with groans and oaths and this was transmitting itself on to the pitch. There were dark mutterings from my left, but that was just Tony.
The stadium announcer broke the collective gloom by letting the owner of a car know he had left his lights on; this is one of the reason I love lower league football – can you imagine the announcer saying that at the Ems? Anyway, back to the action…
Krause scores for 2-0
Wycombe scored a deserved second (through Krause) after the home side failed to defend a corner properly. 14 minutes in and it was 0-2, I swear two blokes nearby left at that point. Northampton had very little luck today but when you are at the bottom they say, things only get worse. And they did; on 23 minutes Ian Morris hobbled off with what looked like a hamstring injury.
This is when we realized that substitutions are sponsored at Northampton by a local Audi dealer. The announcement really is, “Northampton substitution in association with Audi” or words close to that effect. What a great idea, although perhaps Elastoplast might have been more apposite than vorsprung durch technic.
For about ten minutes the weather eased off and the Cobblers came back into the game. The home side had a couple of good chances and made another change, tactical this time I think, O’Donovan coming on for Clive Platt on 28 minutes. Crucially though they didn’t score when they had the chance and the half ended with Wycombe reasserting their dominance. There were a few boos at the whistle but these may have been for the ref who got quite few decisions wrong on the day.
The second half got underway with Boothroyd making a third and final (and indeed fateful) substitution – Luke Norris replacing Paul Reid. To be fair to the home crowd they did get behind the team after HT, perhaps a short break was enough to renew their faith or maybe it was just a case of blind hopeless optimism (we’ve all been there as football fans!).
Wycombe keeper Matt Ingram tips it over
And the team responded – Norris almost scored with an acrobatic scissor kick before on loan striker Izale McLeod made it 2-1. Game on and the first chants from the home end. Minutes later Matt Duke pulled off a great save to keep the Cobblers in the game and I felt that Northampton were going to turn it around.
Wycombe seemed to falter, and the away keeper resorted to time wasting, much to the crowd’s annoyance. We hate this when its done to us at the Ems (Tim Howard was particularly awful recently) so I was pleased to see the ref book him (the Wycombe keeper not Howard, who was undoubtedly several hundred miles away at the time). The keeper complained that the ball kept rolling away in the wind, but so what mate – GET ON WITH IT!
After 66 minutes the next bit of bad luck happened. Wycombe weathered a storm of pressure from the home side then broke up field. In the aftermath Mathias Doumbe limped off with what looked like another hamstring problem leaving the Cobblers only ten men. To be honest I think that was the last straw, but they kept going. You have to question why Boothroyd left his team so exposed though; on a pitch like that in those conditions injuries were always likely, but then I’m not a football manager, for good reasons.
Aidy Boothroyd looks on having made all his changes…
Wycombe’s number 8 captain Stuart Lewis seemed to make a meal of a tackle and went down as if he was badly injured. He wasn’t, he was just play-acting and the ref should probably have booked him for wasting time. Moments later he went and scored, a long shot beating Duke. Lewis rushed behind the goal into the jubilant away fans and got booked – five minutes too late in my opinion. 1-3, game over and the fire drill began – Cobblers’ fans trickling out to cries of ‘cheerio’ from the travailing Wanderers.
Lewis goes down, gets up, picks fight, then scores
Six minutes later it was 4-1 as Morgan completed the rout. The stadium now began to empty in earnest and I doubt there were more than half there by the end of the game. The Wycombe fans set up a chant of ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning!’ and poor Mr. AB looked like he was resigned to it (no pun intended).
As it turned out David Cardoza did sack the former Watford manager (or else he resigned, as suggested in some quarters), this is what they said about it:
Aidy Boothroyd has left Northampton Town Football Club.
The decision was made by Chairman David Cardoza after Saturday’s loss to Wycombe Wanderers.
The club will make no further comment at this time, but will provide a further update on Monday.
With Tony’s beloved Torquay winning (another team associated with where he lived for a while), Northampton sank to the very bottom of the league, on 18 points from 21 games and a goal difference of minus 12. I wish whoever comes in good luck because it’s going to take a big effort (and a lot more luck) to keep them up.
I hope they do stay up, partly because it’s the club many of my students follow, and because my university sponsors them but also because my second team is Cambridge United and I’m hoping the U’s will go up this year and I was looking forward to seeing them at Sixfields. At this rate they may pass each other on the way to and from the Skrill Premier.
Tony and I will be on the road again on Monday, this time hoping that our first love (Arsenal) can beat the new moneyed classless Russians and restore our position at the top of the league. It goes without saying that I much prefer the view from the top of the league than that from the bottom and I expect poor Mr. AB feels the same way.
Happy Christmas to one and all!
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