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Northampton v Barnet

Coca Cola League Two
Tuesday 09 August 2005

Is Favourites Tag Just Cobblers?

By Gerard Butler

The last nine seasons have been eventful for the Cobblers, who enjoy the distinction of being nominated as favourites for this season's League Two title.

Back in 1997, they were starved of success, but won promotion to the then Division Two after beating Swansea at Wembley, and enjoyed it so much they returned next season, but lost the Division Two final to Grimsby Town.

A slide towards relegation in 1998/9 was an anti-climax, and with a poor start to life back in Division Three, Ian Atkins made way for Kevin Wilson, who steered Town to an immediate return to the higher division as they finished third. That season, Barnet beat Northampton 2-1 at Underhill, but lost 1-0 at Sixfields, on their way to the play-offs.

2000/1 brought a mid table finish, whilst Kevin Broadhurst inspired a great escape from relegation the following season, but the club dropped in 2002/3. Colin Calderwood has inspired two play-off semi final campaigns in 2004 and 2005, and all seems set for them to go one better.

That's because of the quality of their summer recruits, proven at League Two and Premiership level in equal measure. Eoin Jess and Ian Taylor are the headline acquisitions in midfield, whilst former Watford captain Sean Dyche and young Aldershot defender Brett Johnson form a useful central defensive partnership. Eric Sabin is a powerful striker, although former Bees favourite Scott McGleish is doubtful with injury; the club signing former player Lawrie Dudfield as cover.

Certainly, control of the centre of midfield would appear to be crucial if the Bees hope for anything, but Town are a good footballing side with quality throughout the pitch, and likely to provide a far stiffer test than Bristol Rovers. A rare chink in their armoury was the number of home draws they had last season in which they failed to press home their advantage.

Their opening game brought a 1-1 draw at fellow promotion hopefuls Lincoln City.

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