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25 July

There is obviously disappointment at not progressing to the next round of play-offs following last weekend’s game against Gateshead.  The game could not have been closer, Shane Byrne’s wonder goal levelling before only a penalty shoot-out of 16 shots could separate the sides on the day.

The planning and organisation of the game was enormous with weekly testing for players and coaching/medical staff and elaborate protocol to ensure that the behind-closed-doors match ran smoothly.  BBC Radio Northampton and Oxford ran joint live coverage of the game and BT Sport streamed the game live which many supporters took advantage of.

Thank you to supporters who were “present” at the game through cardboard cut-outs.  Despite only a few days’ opportunity to arrange this in a tight turnaround, there was a good sprinkling of static supporters making their presence felt.  Thanks also to supporters who brought flags and banners down for display.

Missing out in the play-offs for a third successive season and twice in consecutive seasons on penalties here at St James Park is hard.  But we must remember the great consistency over those three seasons in achieving top four finishes to get into the play-offs.  The players gave their all in straitened circumstances and again were one penalty kick away from the win.  As it is, a strong Gateshead side went through and we will soon see how the remaining play-offs shake down.  We know that Chorley and AFC Fylde will be back and we will then know the full line-up in National League North.

It has been announced that the new season will not begin before 5 September but that pre-season friendly games can begin from 1 August.  This has led to speculation that a season start may be on the cards for 12 or 19 September.

After the mini-pre-season Kevin put together ahead of the Gateshead Eliminator, he will weigh up how to schedule further pre-season training with a start date for league fixtures at some point in September.  With FA Cup dates already fixed for the autumn it will be intriguing to see how the FA schedules the early rounds of the competition.  There is clearly a long way to go in determining how the 2020-21 season will be organised but at least there are now more hopeful signs that the return of football, akin to the way we have always enjoyed it, is in sight.

The tally of bricks sold for the new clubhouse is 310 with 15 remaining only.  Thanks to the players boosting the numbers sold – let’s see if we can reach the final total of 325.

For the forthcoming month we will switch the weekly club update to a fortnightly bulletin but will continue to use it to keep all supporters up-to-date with the news around the club.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay well.

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