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10 April 2016

We reflect on some of the key moments in this promotion winning campaign

A fantastic season has seen the Cobblers secure promotion to League 1 with five games to play.

A season that saw winding up orders, players and staff not being paid and the very future of the club come into question in the autumn has ultimately ended up in Northampton Town regaining League 1 status after seven years in League 2.

Here we look at seven key matches/moments in what really has been a season to remember:

We might not have realised it at the time, but the opening day win at Bristol Rovers was a huge result. It seemed a tricky fixture, away at a side who had just won promotion back to the Football League, but a header from John-Joe O'Toole secured the points for Chris Wilder's side. In a way, this game acted as a prelude to the season that followed, an impressive win against tough opposition and a starring role for O'Toole. It wouldn't be the last time those words would be said.
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The week before this game had been the low point of the campaign, a 2-1 loss at home to Dagenham saw the Cobblers slip to 16th in the early season table. With that in mind, the visit from Oxford United provided a big test for Chris Wilder's side. Loan signings Darnell Furlong and Shaun Brisley made their debuts and Sam Hoskins headed the Cobblers in front midway through the first half. The game then threaten to turn as Jason Taylor was sent off just before half time, but Adam Smith saved the resulting penalty and the ten man Cobblers dug in to keep Oxford at bay in the second half. The Cobblers were back in the top half of the table.
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The Cobblers visited top of the table Wycombe at the start of October and it wasn't just the 3-2 win that got supporters dreaming, it was the quality of the performance. The Cobblers fell behind early but equalised through a Marc Richards free kick. Then, an explosive start to the second half that saw the Cobblers score twice in three minutes secured the win and took Northampton Town into the top ten.
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It wasn't just the 2-1 win at Notts County, that was impressive enough, but this was the weekend when off the field issues were coming to a head. ,Chris Wilder let his thoughts be known in his now infamous post match interview and a few days later, finally, the Kelvin Thomas takeover was agreed. The club could begin to move forward.
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On a weekend that will be remembered for the sad passing of supporter Robert Dunkley, the Cobblers moved to the top of the table thanks to a thrilling 4-3 win at Luton. A John-Joe O'Toole goal from a free kick that went viral around the world, and a stunning goal from Ricky Holmes secured the win, and the Cobblers led the table for the first time in a generation.
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A 1-0 win at Oxford United, destined to be the Cobblers closest challengers, was an 8th successive win for Chris Wilder's side and completed the double over United. Marc Richards won the game with a penalty, but it would be his last action for more than a month because of injury. That said, the Cobblers just kept their unbeaten run going.
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MARCH 19TH 2016
This might not have been the day where promotion was mathematically assured, but you got the feeling this was the day when the side got over the line. Backed by 1,400 fans, the Cobblers actually turned in possibly their worst 40 minutes of the season to trail 2-0 to Stevenage, but the game turned on its head with goals either side of the break from James Collins and John-Joe O'Toole. Just when it looked as though the points would be sheared, Ricky Holmes curled in a 95th minute winner to spark wild scenes of jubilation amongst players and supporters.
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