As expected, Gary Johnson received a warm Gas welcome upon his emergence from the tunnel prior to kick-off, with chants of 'Sh*thead, sh*thead' launched at him from the Blackthorn End. To be fair, he took the insults in a dignified manner and even shared a round of applause with Rovers fans after an exchange in banter. One of the Northampton players also has links with the red side of Bristol and endured a barrage of abuse, just like any other ex-City player. Old carthorse Bas Savage (yes, he is still playing in the football-league) was the subject of the torment and he wasn't new to this type of treatment, having been handed the same warm welcome when visiting The Mem with former club Dagenham & Redbridge last season.
Away from that though and the Rovers performance was far more encouraging than the weekend's offering, with a much stronger defence on show and a much brighter attacking force, aided by the start of Kuffour up top alongside Harrold. The Gas started the game brightly, immediately taking the game to our visitors, although goalkeeper Sam Walker didn't have to make too many saves. That was until winger Joe Anyinsah unleashed a powerful half-volley from 20 yards which the keeper touched around the post mid-way through the first half. Kuffour and Anyinsah were both looking positive when on the ball, and both players had a hand in the opening goal of the evening. Anyinsah was fouled by Northampton's Michael Jacobs on the right-hand side and from the resulting free-kick, Matt Gill crossed towards Kuffour, who took a touch before swivelling and firing home from 15-yards. 1-0 Rovers and no less than was deserved, however it really should have been doubled before half-time. A great flowing move found Lee Brown in space down the left, and the full-back's superb cross was met by the head of Kuffour, but the diminutive striker couldn't direct it in to the back of the net.
Rovers were well on top but at 1-0, our visitors were still well in the game. There were few chances early in the second period, but Northampton made an attacking change when Adebayo Akinfenwa came on the field of play and it wasn't long before the chubby striker equalised for the visitors. Having received taunts for his rather large frame, Akinfenwa found great pride in celebrating his lucky goal in front of the Blackthorn End with his team-mates. It wasn't an impressive celebration by any stretch, but it was enough for Rovers fans to tell them, in no uncertain terms, to hurry up! It has to be said, that Rovers took a while to get their heads around conceding that goal and the Cobblers continued to press, with substitute Lewis Young - brother of Ashley - proving instrumental in everything they did.
But, in the 74th minute Rovers got back in front when Matt Harrold received the ball following a mis-hit shot from Chris Zebroski, and struck the ball in off the underside of the bar to the delight of the Rovers fans. It would have been fair to assume Northampton would then throw the kitchen sink at Rovers back-line, but it wasn't to be and the game just petered out - not that Rovers are complaining! Paul Buckle's first home win ensured we got our second win out of 3 games ahead of our trip to Macclesfield on Saturday afternoon, which stands us in good stead for the rest of the season.
From a much happier Gashead... get in!