In a week that ends with romantic love taking centre stage, it was passionate unbridled love between a person and their football club that took centre stage on Tuesday night as Jordan Lyden’s headed goal sent 1,319 Town fans delirious and kept Richie Wellens’ side top of the League Two table.
After a tired-looking 1-1 draw away at Carlisle last Saturday Town needed to show a positive response and the traveling fans to the Sixfields Stadium were rewarded with an impressive all-round performance, especially in the second half as a combination of impressive defending and some fine saves laid the groundwork for Swindon to take the fight to the home side, and thoroughly deserved all the points.
The decision by assistant manager Noel Hunt (Richie Wellens missed Tuesday nights game due to illness) to introduce Jerry Yates just before the hour mark made a huge difference as his pace and never give up attitude injected some needed energy into Town’s performance.
But it was another impressive display that Town had the chance to go chasing all three points as Steven Benda again showed why he’s been so important to any potential success this side may achieve this season as he made at least three match-winning saves.
After having a rare off day last Saturday at Brunton Park the German keeper was again showing why so many big clubs are rumored to be chasing his signature as he looked comfortable between the sticks, coming and collecting crosses and reading the game well to sweep away any potential danger.
He was joined by Tom Broadbent at the back for the majority of the game with Paul Caddis having to come off injured and the former Rovers man again looked back to his best as him and all the backline kept Northampton at bay throughout the 90 minutes.
Another player who shone once again was Anthony Grant who seemed to cover every blade of grass at Sixfields and put it some point saving tackles, especially in the second half when Andy Williams looked to be ready to draw his side level but Grant’s last-ditch tackle swatted the chance away.
But with Anthony Grant, it’s not just his talent on the pitch but his general leadership skills as he’s quickly become a hero to many Town fans, as he’s always last off the pitch at full-time, home or away, he’ll rally the players around him and more often than not be the best player on the pitch, a true leader in every sense of the word.
Eoin Doyle and Jerry Yates make most of the headlines this season, and rightly so for their contributions, but Anthony Grant has been as important if not more to the cause this season, re-signing the midfielder for next season should and I’m sure is at the top of Richie Wellens’ priorities when the season comes to an end in April.
With just 13 games left for Town this season every contest now becomes more important as managerless Scunthorpe United visits Wiltshire this weekend.
The Irons have had the campaign to forget as they were some pundits’ choice to finish inside the top seven last summer under newly-appointed Paul Hurst, but they struggled to get any momentum going and now sit 18th in League Two with Hurst departing the club in late January and Russ Wilcox in caretaker charge until a successor can be found.
With relegation not on the table and the playoffs a distant dream, this season is effectively over for Wilcox’s side but that doesn’t mean they can’t throw a few spanners in the works which I’m sure they’d love to do this weekend, but if Wellens’ side play as they did Tuesday night it’s hard to see anything other than Town retaining their place at the top of the League Two summit come Saturday evening.