Pompey v Northampton: The opposition view
It has been a roller-coaster ride, taking in financial problems to comfortably winning the League Two title.
There was always a quiet confidence at the start of the campaign that Chris Wilder had assembled a good squad – yet the end result has been superb.
Earlier in the season the players could not be paid and the Cobblers were desperate for a new owner, yet it was used as a catalyst.
Everyone rallied round, the fans got behind the players, the players responded, and the manger spearheaded it all with a passionate speech which the club built on.
Since losing at home to Pompey in December, Northampton have gone 24 league matches unbeaten.
They just don’t know how to lose, winning all types of ways. There have been victories coming from behind, others having played badly, some fighting back from two goals down, and a few recent draws.
After that Pompey loss they actually won 10 in a row and that has been the backbone to success this season.
It took them 12 points clear at the top of the table and they have never looked back.
There have been a lot of games recently where a lesser side would have lost having been second best, but Wilder’s team have an inner ability to grind out at least a draw.
Looking at the squad – John-Joe O’Toole and Ricky Holmes aside – there are not too many star players, it has been very much a team effort.
O’Toole has been crowned player of the season and embodies the turn around, having been transfer-listed and out of the side at the start of the campaign.
His first season was not very good at all – he had not lived up to expectations and looked to be on his way out.
Fortunately, no other club fancied him.
Apparently, his attitude wasn’t great – then all of a sudden he knuckled down and got another chance when there was a suspension.
Since September, O’Toole has been barely out of the side and held it all together. He has the ability to do anything.
Holmes missed the opening four months of the campaign with a back injury but returned in December and got the winner at Luton in his first league game
He has scored four or five outstanding goals this season and his impact has carried the Cobblers through the last few weeks when, as a team, they have not played well.
Holmes has the ability to pop up with a moment of brilliance to unlock the opposition.
The goalkeeper, Adam Smith, also deserves a mention, he has been superb.