I don’t like the comparisons between Michael Appleton and Chris Wilder. It’s not a zero based game; just because one is good, doesn’t make the other bad. Chris Wilder is one of only thee managers to achieve promotion in my lifetime, which puts him among the greats. Anyone who experienced the rush of 2009/10 should remember the time as one that was as good as any we’ve had at the club.
On that basis, I’ll always hope Chris Wilder does well, wherever he is. That said, he seems to be in the second phase of his time at Northampton. Having saved them from relegation and then stabilised them last year, he’s now on that difficult second album of taking them on to promotion. Like his time at Oxford, achieving this extra 10% looks set to be a challenge.
None-the-less, as with all Wilder teams, they will prove a challenge to break down, nobody should be expecting an easy ride. The loss of Kemar Roofe is obviously a blow, he’s the magician in a tight game. But, with O’Dowda back we go into the game in rude health; this is part 2 of a trilogy of games that will test our mettle as promotion contenders. Part 1, against Bristol Rovers, was effective if a little hairy; something similar will do on Saturday.
Old game of the day
Northampton Town, a team we seem to live in parallel with Oxford. During the Ian Atkins years, he basically schlepped his old Northampton squad down the A43 to play for us. Now, of course, there’s a slow reconstruction of the 2010 promotion team at Sixfields, although they’re in competition with Eastleigh on that front.
This is from 1996, the promotion year, and an actual, proper, FA Cup run. We’d beaten Dorchester 9-1 in the first round and followed it up with this before going on to beat Millwall. We eventually went out to Nottingham Forest, in a heroic fight. This was the only home game I missed that season, which still lives with me 19 years on.
From the blog
“On Saturday we came into the game against Northampton with a degree of trepidation about the home-form hoodoo that hung over us. And then the team put in a performance and delivered a result which conformed entirely to the form book. If I’d watched that game on my iPad with the sound down as the Hairy Bikers made a lightly toasted Kirsty Allsop and brie cassoulet would the anxiety have been the same? Just how many layers are there in watching football?”