Aidy Boothroyd believes it is the Cobblers’ destiny is to be promoted from npower League Two this season despite seeing them lose an 11th away game of the season, at Bradford City.
The Cobblers were beaten by Nahki Wells’ 25th-minute goal, a tap-in after a mix-up between defender Nathan Cameron and goalkeeper Lee Nicholls.
It was enough to settle the contest at Valley Parade and complete a league double for the Bantams, who also won at Sixfields in November through a solitary Wells goal.
But results elsewhere ensured Northampton dodged a bullet and remain third in the division; Burton Albion were routed 7-1 at Port Vale on Friday night while Cheltenham Town, Rotherham United and Exeter City all lost a day later.
Those results mean it is ‘as you were’ in the race for third place, with Town still ahead of Cheltenham on goal difference and having played a game more.
Such good fortune, Boothroyd believes, is an indicator that this might be the Cobblers’ year in spite of their poor away record.
“I genuinely think it’s meant to be for us to go up,” he said. “I’ve spoken a lot about us playing well and not getting what we’ve deserved but I do genuinely think we’ve improved in the past two games.
“We’ve turned a real corner in terms of our application and attitude. I don’t think we’re being helped by the officials but it’s our choice whether we get ourselves booked or not.
“We won on the card count quite convincingly but some of the free-kicks given were absolutely nowhere near accurate but you get on with it.”
Wells’ goal was a simple tap-in after debutant Cameron had headed a ball that Nicholls had advanced out of his area to meet.
Boothroyd wants the pair to learn from the error and also encouraged his players to take notice of the way Bradford ‘managed the match’, especially in the second half.
“These are a good side, I’ve said that all along,” said Boothroyd. “And this is a tough place to come.
“Both goalkeepers kept their teams in it and it was a horrific mistake that cost us but it was one made by two very good young players who will both go on to have very good careers.
“It’s a bit of a lesson for us and we perhaps need to learn from their match management as well.”