AIDY BOOTHROYD dedicated Saturday’s long-overdue victory to the Cobblers supporters who made the journey to witness it.
Town’s fans ventured to Morecambe in more expectation than they had for the previous 14 games, none of which had ended in a victory.
In the build-up to the game there had been a feeling that a win was on its way because of the way the side had been steadily improving during the festive fixtures.
They were unlucky to lose to Burton and Swindon, with both those results coming courtesy of late goals, although it did give the new manager the opportunity to pour the match minutes into his players in a sort of mid-season pre-season.
At Shrewsbury the first signs of success were there. At Morecambe they finally crossed the line.
This was probably not the best the team has played under Boothroyd but it was the best complete, 90-minute performance.
Freddy Hall, drafted in to replace Shane Higgs whose Achilles injury is nothing short of catastrophic to the manager’s plans, both in the short and medium term, was limited in his workload by some class defending.
Jason Crowe in particular enjoyed a great game at right-back, playing with the experience and know-how of a veteran if not the explosive pace of his heyday of five years ago.
As well as keeping Morecambe quiet, they took their chances and fought for their lives in midfield.
The end result was a near-perfect start to 2012, four points from two tough away games and an enormous boost to everyone connected with the Sixfields club ahead of successive home appointments.
“I’m delighted for the guys that have come all this way to support us and we’ve got to look now to build on this,” beamed Boothroyd after the game.
“They’ve had a lot of bad feelings this year but they can go away from this game happy because we deserved the win.
“We’ve got a draw and a win in 2012 and we’ve got to make sure 2012 is better for us than 2011.
“All the boys that went on the pitch worked really hard and we fully deserved what we got.”
John Johnson gave the away side the lead with his second goal in an away fixture at Morecambe on two different grounds, connecting with a bullet header on a well-timed run at a corner.
Johnson will want to buy a drink for Ben Tozer for his part in the goal – the centre-back positioned his six-foot-three frame between the goalkeeper and the area the ball hit. Job done.
The second goal was always going to be crucial and Town got it when Akwasi Asante took advantage of a slip by his marker to carry the ball inside another challenge and smack a right-footed shot inside Barry Roche’s near post.
The natives were seriously restless by that point but they had something to cheer when Kevin Ellison stabbed home from three yards after a cross off the left had got stuck underneath a combination of Blair Adams’ left boot and the goalmouth mud.
Morecambe tried to generate a storm in the final few minutes – the traditional danger zone for the team in recent weeks – but the visitors weathered it to the joy of their manager.
“We deserved the win,” he said. “They’re a good team, I was impressed with them, and we stood up to everything they threw at us.
“We dealt with the conditions better than them and we deserved what we got. You’ve got to be organised to win any game at any level.
“You know the home side are going to have a spell, which they did, and the goal was very unfortunate because it came off Blair Adams’ back.
“Overall I thought we deserved it and the game plan worked.
“We scored a goal from a set-piece and one on the counter, and that’s what we look to do.”
It was not perfect, and Boothroyd admitted afterwards some regret at not clinching his much-desired clean sheet, but the details almost don’t matter.
For weeks this has been a team looking every inch an outfit ready to turn a corner.
At the Globe Arena on Saturday afternoon, they did exactly that.