It all comes down to this. 45 games down. One to go. COME ON, COBBLERS!
One final away trip. One final league game. After a season of the usual roller coaster ride on the good ship NTFC, The Cobblers are one win away from an immediate return to League One. It’s been a season that’s taken us from purring at the talents of Kion Etete, only for him to be prized away, of doubting whether this squad even wants promotion and of watching in awe as we storm back into contention over the final few weeks.
The draw against Exeter last week actually turned out to be a very good point indeed as Port Vale and Mansfield failed to take advantage on a tense Monday afternoon. How precious could it be come 5pm on Saturday? Only time will tell but it may well make the difference.
The maths are simple(ish). If the Cobblers win at Barrow then that final promotion spot will be ours unless Bristol Rovers can win by six more goals than we win by. Nothing would come as a surprise in this barmy League Two promotion race at this point so Jon Brady’s men must solely focus on winning well.
The game will be beamed back to Sixfields while a small band of passionate away fans will be in attendance, squeezed into the tiny terrace that will sound five times its size come kick off. The town will turn claret for the day and if the result goes our way it’ll be painted claret all night long.
Here. We. Go.
Barrow returned to the Football League for the first time in 48 years in 2020 thanks to the same Points Per Game system that saw the Cobblers reach the League Two playoffs that summer. Ian Evatt, who had masterminded that campaign, swiftly departed for Bolton Wanderers and the Bluebirds struggled initially under David Dunn and Michael Jolley before Rob Kelly stepped in to make sure they were still a league club last season.
There’s been more struggles this season, though, with Mark Cooper’s appointment failing to yield the expected manoeuvring of the club to the next level. Cooper was sacked in March with a daunting looking fixture list threatening to drag them back into non-league football.
Phil Brown was the latest to be given the mantle as he signed up to the challenge of keeping Barrow above the line. Despite many doubters, he’s motivated them enough to survive and the fact that they come into the final game with safety secured os testament to his efforts. His team haven’t wilted in the face of challenges after securing that league spot with only narrow defeats to Swindon and Exeter in recent weeks.
The fact that Barrow haven’t lost by more than two goals since returning to the league two years ago and knowing that we were beaten in the reverse fixture means it’s likely to be an afternoon full of nerves for the Cobblers.
Last time out
One to watch
John Rooney returned to Barrow in January, having shot them to promotion in 2020 and won the National League Player of the Season award before joining Stockport County. He signed back on a two and a half year deal during the transfer window and scored the goal that secured promotion against Sutton United. He is the younger brother of Derby manager Wayne.
Barrow could welcome back Aaron Amadi-Holloway from injury after he limped out of the 1-0 win over Sutton and missed the following two games.
The Cobblers are waiting on the results of a scan to see whether Aaron McGowan is available for the game. It looked unlikely when McGowan was seen leaving the ground on crutches on Saturday but Jon Brady isn’t ruling him out just yet. Sid Nelson and Paul Lewis are out until the end of the season.
A dour encounter saw Barrow take the points from Sixfields thanks to Aaron Amadi-Holloway’s second half goal.
Line-up Prediction – Powered by FanHub
Taking charge of this one is Ross Joyce who we last saw in the 1-0 EFL Cup defeat to AFC Wimbledon back in August. Graeme Fyvie and Johnathon Bickerdike are running the lines and Andy Haines is fourth official.
Charles: Barrow 0-1 Cobblers
Danny: Barrow 0-3 Cobblers
Neil: Barrow 9-9 Cobblers
Jefé: Barrow 0-54 Cobblers
Charles and Danny looked ahead to the big game on this week’s Preview Show in the company of Barrow fan Ronan McCarthy:
Danny joined It’s All Cobblers To Me at the very beginning. While at university he’s written a regular blog about the Cobblers and the transition to podcasting was an obvious one to take.
A Cobblers fan all his life, Danny is the most optimistic of us on the podcast. His love of Sam Hoskins is undeniable and rumours of keeping Keith Curle locked up in his basement are unfounded.