So, that’s another season done and dusted. How was it for you? The Cobblers may well have fallen short of a play-off place, but they were in the race until the penultimate game of the campaign, and after the trials and tribulations of 12 months earlier, that has to be progress.
Last summer, after Town had held on to their Football League status by the skin of their teeth following back-to-back wins in the final games of the campaign against Dagenham and Oxford United, the majority of Town fans would have been delighted with a 12th-place finish this time around.
Chris Wilder’s team has faults, and can frustrate and delight in equal measure, as they did in the course of one match in Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Wycombe Wanderers.
The main negatives from this season were the team’s inconsistency, and the defensive lapses that have blighted too many games.
A problem highlighted by the fact the Cobblers conceded more goals in this season than the previous one.
Those lapses are a mystery when you look at some of the individuals that have been in the team - Ryan Cresswell, Zander Diamond, Lee Collins, Brendan Moloney - but there is clearly an issue with how the whole team defends, and I am talking from the front men back here.
It is something Wilder and his assistant Alan Knill - both defenders in their playing days with close to 1,000 League appearances between them - are all too aware of, and I trust they will rectify it in the summer with recruitment, and also with a lot of hard work on the training ground.
But let’s look at the positives here, and there are plenty.
Offensively, the team is a potent force and are not one league two’s top scorers by accident.
In Marc Richards they have one of the best strikers in the division, and in Ivan Toney they have an unpolished gem who is only going to get better, and those moments of magic he produces are only going to happen more frequently.
The defensive lapses are a mystery when you look at some of the individuals that have been in the teamJeremy Casey
Supporting them, Ricky Holmes and Lawson D’Ath have been a breath of fresh air and when they are on the game can be very hard to handle.
They give the team an attacking fluidity with their ability to play off either foot, and the fact they are both happy to operate on either flank, and from central areas as well.
Joel Byrom is a class act in midfield, and his partnership with Jason Taylor was one of the keys to the team’s improved performances from January onwards.
And even in defence, Diamond is now 100 per cent fit for possibly the first time since he’s been at the club and his performances have been very strong in recent matches, which can only be a good thing, and he can surely form a solid central defensive partnership with Cresswell if they can both stay out of the treatment room and play a run of games together.
But on Saturday against Wycombe the same old defensive frailities surfaced again, and the match summed up the Cobblers’ season in many ways.
The team carried a threat, scored two goals, showed enough heart and commitment to get themselves back into the game having gifted Wycombe a 2-0 first-half lead, but then threw it all away with some lapse marking to allow the visitors three points they scarecely deserved.
It has been a scenario that has been played out all too many times this season, and is something that is going to be on Wilder’s mind every waking hour of the summer until the squad return for pre-season training on June 22 when he can really set about making things right.
If he can do that, then this time next season perhaps the Cobblers will be celebrating something more than a mid-table finish.
SHWAN JALAL - could have done better with the second goal, and his kicking was still a little suspect. Made two excellent saves in the second half - 6
JASON TAYLOR - forced into an unfamiliar right-back role thanks to injuries to Brendan Moloney and Ben Tozer, he acquitted himself well - 7 STAR MAN
ZANDER DIAMOND - the central defender won’t be happy that Wycombe scored twice after the Cobblers failed to clear set-pieces properly - 6
RYAN CRESSWELL - made some crucial interceptions at times, and scored a good header. But like Diamond, won’t be happy with goals conceded - 6
EVAN HORWOOD - looked more solid defensively than he has in recent outings, but struggled to make any impression in attack - 6
RICKY HOLMES - showed his class in bursts throughout the game, and always looked the most likely to create something - 7
JOHN-JOE O’TOOLE - very unlucky to get booked for perfectly good tackle in the first half, but this was another frustrating performance - 6
JOEL BYROM - got more into the game in the second half after a quiet opening 45 minutes, and when he is on song, the team always plays better - 6
LAWSON D’ATH - should have done better with the chance created with the best move of the match in the first half, but was lively throughout - 6
IVAN TONEY - his effort can’t be faulted, and he was a handful for Wycombe’s defence, but never really looked like scoring - 6
MARC RICHARDS - named the club’s player of the year before kick-off, Richards wasn’t at his very best. Like Toney, he didn’t really have a clear-cut chance all game - 6
CHRIS HACKETT (for O’Toole, 65 mins) - couldn’t get into the game after coming on on the right wing - 6
DARREN CARTER (for Horwood, 85 mins)
Not used: Duke, Warburton, Clifton, Gray, De Girolamo