Northampton Town reaching the play-offs? They’d have told you it was Cobblers for suggesting such a thing six weeks ago, with the club 16 points off seventh and seven points off the drop.
Fast forward to the present day and it’s not Cobblers anymore. Now Keith Curle’s men are eight matches unbeaten and a tantalising six points off a spot in the end of season lottery.
Mysterious Curle has worked wonders since taking over from Dean Austin in October.
Not only has he improved their points-per-game ratio to 1.6 per match – up from 1.1 under Austin – he’s also reshaped them into a versatile yet stable unit.
Curle is renowned for tinkering with his team and formation, something which Crewe Alexandra boss Dave Artell admitted gave him a serious headache following their 2-0 defeat in early-March.
That lack of certainty can sometimes be frustrating for supporters. But it makes the players more adaptable to different systems, which can be useful depending on the opposition.
Things now appear more settled at Sixfields, with a sturdy back-four complimented by a midfield triangle of John Joe O’Toole, Sam Foley and Jordan Turnbull which is reaping rewards.
Case for the defence
One of the main reasons behind Northampton’s upturn in form is their defensive displays. The Cobblers have conceded four goals in their last eight matches, keeping four clean sheets.
That’s in large part down to the switch to a back-four. Town appear much more resolute and physical as a result, which is all down to having those foundations in place at the back.
Those foundations are building blocks to success, and those building blocks are based on partnerships. Not least skipper Aaron Pierre and Ashton Taylor at centre-half.
Both players have plenty of experience under their belts and with an old school manager like Curle at the helm; it’s no surprise the pair are showing themselves to best effect.
Not convinced yet about their promotion credentials yet? Then just check out their remaining fixtures from now until the end of the season.
Town face Notts County (24th), Macclesfield Town (23rd), Yeovil Town (22nd), Port Vale (20th) and Cheltenham Town (17th) in their final eight matches.
Bury and Mansfield are their only real tests, while a managerless Oldham Athletic side with nothing to play for make for ideal final day opponents.
Northampton are the league’s in-form side. If they can carry that forward into the final eight matches of the season, they should be right in the play-off picture come May 4th.
Their run begins at Whaddon Road against Cheltenham, where the Cobblers are 13/8 for victory.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication