After watching Ricky Holmes fire his side to a dramatic victory over Stevenage on Saturday, taking them one step closer to promotion, Cobblers manager Chris Wilder used the opportunity to hail both the contribution and winning mentality of every member of his ‘special’ squad for their part in this ‘ridiculous’ season.
The win at Stevenage took Cobblers past the 80-point mark and maintained their 17-point advantage over fourth place, meaning they can mathematically win promotion against Mansfield on Easter Monday if results go their way.
That victory on Saturday was the latest example of just why Northampton have blown the rest of League Two away as they battled back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 despite being second best for large periods against a Stevenage side languishing down in 22nd place.
Wilder wasn’t getting carried away despite Holmes’ 95th minute winner but admitted the promotion-clinching moment “will come” at some point over the next few weeks.
“Without getting ahead of ourselves, we all understand that this team between now and the end of the season will win some games of football and it’ll come,” said the Cobblers boss.
“I just don’t think this team is going to stop. They could have looked at Saturday’s game at half-time and thought ‘we’ve got nine games left and we’ll get another couple of wins somewhere else’ but they wanted to win this game of football and they never want to get beat and that’s a special quality.
“They’re an honest group of players who put their lot into every session that they take part in from a Monday to Friday and every game they’ve stuck their lot in for this football club.
“Even in pre-season they wanted to win. Even down on the south coast at Burgess Hill they were having a row at each other because we weren’t winning and we weren’t doing the right things.
“They had a row on Saturday and they were at it at half-time and that’s what happens.”
The wild celebrations which followed Holmes’ stunning winner on Saturday typified the togetherness and unity between fans and players which has been evident throughout the season, qualities that have carried and spurred this Cobblers team on to the verge of promotion.
“That’s the group,” added Wilder when asked about the jubilant scenes at the end. “They’re such a special group and a real good group and it’s a tough situation as a manager to pick a side every week.
“You have to leave players out but I’m watching the game and listening to the boys on the bench and players like Jason Taylor and the other lads and they desperately want us to get a result.
“They’re not sat in a corner thinking ‘well I want to be playing, I should be playing’ and of course they’re desperate to play but the reaction of everybody – including staff who’ve worked tremendously hard and players who are not playing – to Ricky’s wonderful goal showed that.
“We missed two or three chances just before that, Collo’s (James Collins) missed a couple of chances, and obviously when the sending off comes you fancy Sammy (Hoskins) to go through and score.
“But it’s a big, big day for us. We’ve still got work to do but to be on 82 points with nine games to go is mind-boggling.”