Guthrie believes superb team spirit can help carry the Cobblers to glory

“I don’t think there will be many teams who have got a better spirit than us.”

By Jeremy Casey
Friday, 17th December 2021, 12:01 pm
Jon Guthrie and the Cobblers players celebrate the defender's match-winning goal at Newport County in September
Jon Guthrie and the Cobblers players celebrate the defender's match-winning goal at Newport County in September

Central defender Jon Guthrie is loving life at the Cobblers, and he is confident the team will continue to thrive in Sky Bet League two this season.

In-form Town are second in the table following their hard-fought 2-1 win at Harrogate Town on Saturday, a victory that was their third on the spin against a promotion rival, following on from crucial triumphs against Leyton Orient and Exeter City.

The Cobblers are now just four points adrift of leaders Forest Green Rovers, although they have played a game more, but perhaps more importantly there is now a six-point gap down to fourth-placed Newport County.

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Jon Guthrie on the ball

That picture could well change this weekend, as Town are without a game due to a Covid outbreak at Sixfields ensuring the postponement of their scheduled clash with Barrow.

All of their closest rivals, aside from Swindon Town, are still expected to play their fixtures so could close or extend the gaps, but no matter what happens the Cobblers will still be in very good shape.

There is of course a long, long way to go, with the season not yet at the halfway point, but Guthrie believes the spirit in the Sixfields camp could be the key to the team going all the way and maintaining a promotion challenge.

Guthrie was one of 12 summer signings made by manager Jon Brady, and he praised the coaching staff for their ability to create what has been a great chemistry over such a short space of time.

Jon Guthrie and his Town team mates celebrate the defender's winning goal at Harrogate last weekend

“I’m loving it at the moment,” said the former Livingston, Walsall and Crewe Alexandra man.

“You can see the camaraderie between everyone and it’s a great changing room to be in.

“Everyone is bouncing coming into training and it’s obviously a great place to be around and that’s showing on the pitch as well - long may it continue.

“Changing room-wise, I don’t think there will be many teams who have got a better spirit than us and that’s credit to the staff for bringing us all together.

“We’re all in it together and I think you can see on the pitch that we’re all fighting for each other and that’s really important.”

The Cobblers have certainly had to show their fighting spirit on their current run of eight wins out of their past 10 League Two matches, and in particular in each of their three most recent wins.

They had to withstand plenty of pressure in the wins over the Os and the Grecians but came out on the right side of the result.

And they again had to be very disciplined to get the better of Harrogate, even though Guthrie felt the team was some way short of its best and had to ‘grind out’ the result.

“It’s a massive win for us,” said 29-year-old.

“We spoke about backing up the great win on Tuesday (at Exeter) with another result on Saturday because it’s so important to beat the teams around you in this league.

“I didn’t think we played particularly well, not at our best, but to grind out another win, it’s massive.

“I thought we managed the game pretty well after scoring the second goal. I can’t remember them creating too many chances.

“They put in a few crosses but not a lot else. We weren’t able to manage the game so well in the first half but we learned our lessons from that and that shows we’re growing as a team.

“I thought we saw the game out really well.”

As well as playing his part in a strong defensive performance, as he has all season, Guthrie was also a key man at the other end at Wetherby Road, scoring the crucial second goal in the 49th minute.

The big stopper has been a real threat on attacking set-pieces all campaign, and his match-winning header from Mitch Pinnock’s corner was his fifth goal of an impressive first season in the claret and white.

And he was quick to praise Pinnock’s part in the goal, with the left-winger also sending in the corner for Fraser Horsfall’s seventh-minute opener.

“It was a perfect delivery by Mitch, as it is so often,” said the Devizes-born player.

“You know with Mitch that if you keep making the runs, he will find you more often than not because his delivery into the box is so good.

“That’s another two assists for him, which is brilliant, and it was a great moment for me to score in front of the fans.”

Close to 600 Town supporters made the lengthy trip to north Yorkshire to take in the club’s very first game against a Harrogate outfit that was only promoted to the Football League 18 months ago.

Guthrie’s goal came at the end where the travelling supporters were housed at the Sulphurites’ compact stadium, and he praised the tremendous backing they give the team.

“They travelled in their hundreds and they were singing all game long - we could hear them all throughout the match,” said Guthrie.

“They out-sung the home fans, which says a lot.

“The fans have been brilliant all season and I’m just glad we were able to repay them with three points.

“I wasn’t actually sure which way to go when I went to celebrate to be honest because there were fans in both stands, but the players mobbed me and it was a great feeling to share it with them.”

Another key thing for the Cobblers was that they claimed a win on Saturday with a couple of key players sidelined.

Striker Kion Etete and central midfielder Shaun McWilliams were both ruled out of the trip, and that meant Danny Rose and Nicke Kabamba led the attacking line - with Kabamba making only his fifth league start of the season.

There have been some observers questioning the Cobblers’ strength in depth, and whether they will be able to stay the promotion course, but Guthrie is having none of that.

“Nicke was brilliant, he caused them loads of problems,” said Guthrie.

“He missed one chance, but in terms of his work-rate and hold-up play and everything, I thought he was really good. It was one of his best games for us.

“The squad was a bit thin with all the injuries and people have questioned whether or not we have enough depth, but I think we showed that we do. All of the boys who came into the team were brilliant.

“Any team that doesn’t have their key players will miss them, but we showed we can handle it.”