|Matches of Yesteryear - Northampton v U's 20/01/04|
Written by wessex_exile on Monday, 26th Aug 2019 13:45
I won’t have the time to do this tomorrow, so I’m posting this slightly ahead of our trip to Selhurst Park on Tuesday night – look forward to seeing any of you there.
Northampton Town v Colchester United
Tuesday 20th January 2004
LDV Vans Trophy (Southern Section Semi-Final)
Having visited the FA Cup last match, the Match of Yesteryear this time delves into the LDV Vans Trophy. A much-maligned competition generally, and certainly in its current manifestation, but back in the day when this was a creditable competition, it genuinely was an opportunity for lower league sides to get to Wembley, as we know only too well. Coincidentally, the Cobblers, defeated only yesterday by a Norris penalty (and a starring role off the bench from Gambin) were our hosts and opponents on that fateful Tuesday night back in 2004, in the Southern Section Semi-Final.
This is another match when the U’s were managed by Phil Parkinson (still currently available), and in his first full season as the U’s manager. However, to shift the rose-tints to one side briefly, the season had not started well for Parky and the U’s, with three back-to-back defeats in the league, only softened by a Coca Cola Cup victory at home to Plymouth Argyle. However, by the new year, Parky had started to turn things around, and we were gradually pulling away from the threat of relegation, and towards mid-table security, and maybe even the play-offs.
Our route to this match, and indeed my route to this match, as I’d been to all of them, had been via a 3-1 victory at Cheltenham Town, a 2-2 draw at Yeovil (we won 4-2 on penalties), and a 3-2 victory after extra-time on a freezing foggy night at Adams Park. This last match is an important part of the U’s history, a match won by Jermaine Brown scoring in the last minute of extra time. Jermaine was brought on for the injured (knocked unconscious I think?) Bobby Bowry only two minutes before the end of extra time. It was Jermaine’s debut appearance for the U’s, his debut goal for the U’s, and it turned out to be his final appearance for the U’s as well – nine magnificent minutes as it turned out (seven of which as a result of the extended treatment Bobby needed), but those that were there (myself and Leadbelly amongst many hundreds of others) love him for his contribution to U’s folklore.
The U’s lined up at Sixfields:
22..Greg Halford (Scott McGleish 33’ – not a typo, thirty-three minutes)
Northampton may have been forgiven for not taking this match too seriously, they did after all have the small matter of a visit from Manchester United in the 4th round of the FA Cup the following Sunday to think about. However, to their credit, their line-up on Tuesday night was pretty much Colin Calderwood’s first-choice squad. Mind you, the U’s had their own FA Cup progress to consider, with a trip to Coventry the following Saturday, but like Northampton, Parky fielded a strong team. With only Scott Fitzgerald and Scott McGleish rested on the bench. At first glance, I assumed Simon Brown was rested too, with Richard McKinney getting his first start of the season between the sticks – but the records show McKinney went on to start three more consecutive matches, so I can only assume Brown had picked up an injury that I can’t recall?
Not a match it was possible to get home from using our glorious rail network, so I drove over for this game, to join what I recall was somewhere in the region of 700 U’s fans, amongst a pretty decent crowd of just over 4k. This included meeting up with Leadbelly again, and always a pleasure it is. However, pleasure rapidly turned to pain, with Martin Smith in particular relentlessly tormenting Halford at right back, which I suspect Greg still has nightmares about to this day (I believe the expression is “tearing him another one”). With less than 15 minutes on the clock, Blackpool-loanee Richard Walker put the Cobblers 1-0 up, and after 33 minutes Phil Parkinson had seen enough, reorganized the back line and replaced Halford with McGleish.
Although that helped, Northampton were still pressing us hard, and it wasn’t too much of a surprise when Walker doubled their lead not long after half-time. Then came the real turning point – Cobblers defender Ian Sampson, earlier booked for body-checking Wayne Andrews, decided in the 57th minute he’d have another go on Rowan Vine, and really shouldn’t have been surprised that a second yellow and sending off was his reward. Now the U’s really came into their own, with wave after wave of attacks battering a Northampton who were basically holding on as best they could. Finally, on 61 minutes Scott McGleish side-footed into an empty net, after Harper could only palm away a dangerous Wayne Andrews cross, and the come-back was on.
Eventually, and with just five minutes of normal time remaining, the U's superiority paid off again, as McGleish dived full-length to head in the equaliser from yet another Andrews right-wing cross, and the away terrace went into delirious melt-down! Full-time was reached without further goals, and so we entered into extra-time under the Silver Goal rule – not quite “next goal wins it” Golden Goal, a Silver Goal would count if there had been no further score at the end of the period in which the goal was scored. With the ten men of Northampton fading fast (and I suspect more than one or two now nervously considering their fitness levels ahead of the Man United game), it was all U's as the tie moved into the first period of extra-time – and who else but McGleish was on the right end of an excellent Vine cross to again head powerfully past Harper in the 96th minute, completing his hat-trick.
Needless to say, the away end went berserk, man-hugs all round, some supporters briefly on the pitch, just complete and utter bedlam. By now, both physically and emotionally drained, it was far too late for Northampton to do much about the final result, though to give them their dues, they did at least try, but to no avail. The triumphant U’s comfortably saw out the remainder of the first period of extra-time, to give us a victory that will remain in Colchester United folklore forever.
Northampton Town 2 (Walker 14’, 51’) Colchester United 3 (McGleish 61’, 86’, 95’) aet
Northampton lost to Manchester United the following Sunday, albeit only 0-3, and not the 8-2 drubbing from 1970 courtesy of a George Best double hat-trick. They would go on to reach the 3rd division play-offs, which were won by Huddersfield Town. For the U’s, in our FA Cup 4th round match we drew 1-1 at 1st division Coventry City, and comfortably won the replay at Layer Rd 3-1. In the league, Parky took us eventually to 11th place – a precursor of what was to be a momentous season the year after.
I won’t dwell on the LDV Vans Trophy two-legged Area Final against Southend United, as both matches are also on my Programme List and may therefore pop up in the future – suffice to say the competition that year was eventually won by Blackpool at the Millennium Stadium, in front of a crowd of 34,031. In his programme notes for our first-leg Area Final against Southend, and reflecting on Greg’s torrid time at Sixfields, Parky generously wrote “I thought that Greg had done tremendously well in the games that he had played leading up to the Northampton match. Martin Smith is a tremendous player for them down the left wing and I thought about it when I picked the team for that game that maybe I could have put Greg at left back and Sam [Stockley] at right back to nullify the threat. Greg didn’t do badly against an excellent player, but he had played a few games in succession and maybe it was one game too many for a young player.”
Clearly making a big impact on Colin Calderwood, Scott McGleish sadly moved to Northampton at the end of the season on a Bosman transfer, after scoring 17 goals that season for the U’s. Remarkably, in a professional career that has spanned 26 years, and seen him score 346 goals in 1,010 appearances, at the age of 45 Scott is still playing (as Player-Coach) for Hendon, with two appearances so far this season.
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