Chris Wilder’s appointment looked to be a masterstroke as he led Northampton Town to League 2 safety in 2013/14.
With only three wins to their name by December, the club parted ways with manager Aidy Boothroyd, with Andy King filling in as caretaker until Chris Wilder’s arrival at the end of January.
It took a few games, but eventually Town started turning the losses into wins and draws – their 1-0 win at St James Park happened in the midst of a six-game unbeaten run. They would only lose three more all season.
The summer so far
With Chris Wilder targeting more strikers in a bid to improve on last season’s efforts, Marc Richards returned to Sixfields from Chesterfield and Kaid Mohamed has come on loan from Port Vale.
Defender Gregor Robertson, winger Chris Hackett and strikers Ivan Toney and David Moyo have all signed new contracts, while Mathias Kouo-Doumbe was released.
Swansea defender Daniel Alfei, who was at Portsmouth last season, has joined on loan, while Evan Horwood has been tied to a two-year deal after his release by Tranmere. John-Joe O’Toole has also arrived after he left relegated Bristol Rovers.
Northampton boss Chris Wilder shocked a few when he swapped his place in the dugout at high-flying Oxford United for that of the then rock-bottom Cobblers midway through last season.
Wilder, whose most successful times as a player were with Sheffield United, Rotherham and Halifax Town (who he would later manage), took eight wins from his twenty games as Town manager last season to complete the escape from their relegation troubles. Now he will set his sights higher, with a potential play-off push on the cards this season.
Ones to watch
Experienced Northampton midfielder Ricky Ravenhill was a League 2 winner with Notts County in 2010. Ravenhill, once of hometown club Doncaster Rovers and Darlington, moved to Sixfields not long after teammate Matt Duke last year following Bradford City’s headline-making season, initially arriving on loan before completing a permanent transfer in January.
Cobblers midfielder Darren Carter was a part of England’s Under-20 team at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates. The Three Lions representatives disappointingly finished bottom of a group that included Japan, Colombia and Egypt to make an early exit from the competition. Perhaps the most significant moment of his international career came when he was sent off for a challenge on a young Portuguese winger by the name of Cristiano Ronaldo in a Toulon Tournament match. England won that one 2-0.
Historically this is among Exeter’s most-played fixtures. The Cobblers have the upper hand in terms of wins against the Grecians, and that’s thanks largely due to a 16-game unbeaten run that stretched from 1985 to 2012. Exeter won the two after that, but Northampton won the most recent game 1-0 at St James Park in March.
Exeter City wins: 29
Northampton Town wins: 48
Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale was once briefly a Northampton Town player. He made five appearances for the Cobblers as a 19-year-old on loan from Southampton, but soon returned to the Saints, where he aimed to break into the first team. Of course, he would go on to have two spells as an Exeter City player, firstly on loan in 1997/98, then permanently to finish his playing days in 2007.
Grecians midfielder Arron Davies was signed up following the termination of his contract with Northampton Town. He was signed by the Cobblers by Gary Johnson in 2011, but found opportunities limited when Johnson was replaced by Aidy Boothroyd.
Kevin Amankwaah, Paul Buckle, Chris Hackett, Andy Woodman and Keith Bowker have also played for both.
Exeter City 3-0 Northampton Town, St James Park, Saturday 2nd March 2013
Exeter City ran out winners in emphatic 3-0 victory over fellow promotion rivals Northampton Town, leapfrogging the Cobblers in the league table in the process.
The Grecians gave the visitors a taste of their own medicine with the opener coming from a corner, which goalkeeper Lee Nicholls could only poke into his own net.
Matt Oakley was once again provider from a dead-ball for City’s second after the break, as he delivered a fine cross for Jamie Cureton to head in his 20th of the campaign. And a first goal in red and white for Jake Gosling after a jinking solo run put the shine on a brilliant victory.
Northampton Town are at 20/1 on Sky Bet to win League 2 this season. Promotion has been set at 11/2, while relegation is 12/1.
The Cobblers will host Mansfield Town at Sixfields on the opening day. Odds for a home win are 21/20, an away win is 12/5 and the draw is 11/5.