The season is here! League One is here! The Cobblers are back and this Saturday sees us take on our old friends Stevenage at Sixfields to kick start a season that sees us take on some big opponents, welcome full house crowds and attempt to compete back in a third tier that we left so quickly last time we were here.
Under Keith Curle, and at the start of Jon Brady’s tenure, we never got going with lockdown and a playing squad that struggled to compete sending us back to League Two at the first attempt despite laudable efforts from Brady.
This time feels different in many ways. The Cobblers come into the division with a playing squad tied into longer term deals, a settled group who haven’t needed to be massively improved upon and a management team who have evolved and introduced a recruitment and development style that is reaping its rewards.
The first task of the season is to battle Steve Evans and a Stevenage side who stunned League Two last season and won an unexpected promotion but who are more than ready for the step up after a strong season of recruitment.
Stevenage were 22nd in League Two when Steve Evans took charge of them a year and a half ago. The journey he’s taken them on since making the move to Broadhall Way has been nothing short of remarkable. Not only has he rebuilt a club close to being on its knees but it’s rebuilt and re-energised Evans himself after some difficult spells elsewhere.
The fact that he’s now leading the Boro into only their fourth ever season at this level is a stunning achievement given the wealth and supposed “bigger” clubs in and around League Two and Evans has once again gone into a team and punched above and beyond their weight, connected to a fan base and brought glory days back.
The summer has seen them recruit sensibly with a group of players drafted in from Evan’s contact book and who possess bags of experience between them at this level and in the Championship. Thompsons Ben and Nathan have joined from Peterborough United while a third Thompson, Louis, is in from Portsmouth. Harry Anderson was part of the Bristol Rovers side that won promotion to League One a couple of years ago (we’ll leave that there!) while goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond is back from Fulham on a permanent deal.
We all know what we’re getting with an Evans team and his tactical nous means that we won’t be able to rest on any leads, as shown by their fightback against the Cobblers at Sixfields back in April. This is one that both sides will point at as one they can win and it should be a cracking opener to the season.
Last Time Out
The Cobblers won their final pre-season friendly on Saturday as we won 3-1 at Stadium:MK thanks to goals from Mitch Pinnock, Peter Abimbola and Ben Fox.
Stevenage saw off a Spurs XI 4-0 at Broadhall Way with goals from Nick Freeman (2), Carl Piergianni and an own goal.
One To Watch
Stevenage are built on a firm foundation and no-one holds them up more than Carl Piergianni. Piergianni was named in the League Two Team of the Season back in May and is a rock at the back as well as being a danger in the opposition penalty area.
Starting his career at Peterborough in his town of birth, Piergianni made the move to Stockport in 2011. Spells at Corby, Boston, South Melbourne, Salford City and Oldham followed before joining Stevenage on a free transfer last summer.
The Cobblers are definitely without Tyler Magloire and Danny Hylton who are long term absentees and Ben Fox who has now been ruled out for up to six weeks. Ryan Haynes and Harvey Lintott may also struggle to make the squad for the weekend.
Stevenage look set to be without Terence Vancooten until October after the defender picked up a knock in pre-season before undergoing a small operation. New signing Finley Burns, on loan from Manchester City, could step in for a debut while the likes of the three Thompsons, Harry Anderson, Alex McDonald and Aaron Pressley are all in line to make their first appearances.
Lewis Smith is the official for the opening day. Smith last took charge of the Cobblers in last December’s 2-1 home defeat to Swindon Town at Sixfields. He showed 107 yellow cards and just 1 red last season.
Richard Morris and Samuel Fudge are running the lines and Darren Dysdale is fourth official.
A Cobblers fan all his life, Danny is the most down to earth football supporter from Northampton.
While at university in Southampton, Danny kept up to date with all things NTFC from afar, sharing his thoughts on his ‘A Load Of Cobblers’ online blog.