It was all but confirmed coming into the game. Northampton Town would be joining Bury and Milton Keynes Dons in being relegated to League Two if they failed to record a victory of nine goals or more. It was a task that was near on impossible and as the final whistle sounded at the end of the game, so it would prove. Northampton were relegated alongside Oldham Athletic after a 2-2 draw with the Latics on the final day of the season.
It was a bitter blow for the Cobblers, to be returning to Sky Bet League Two after their title winning season in 2016, however, it was a more than a deserved relegation. Issues on and off the pitch proved too much. Chinese firm 5USport, which bought a 60% share in June, was forced to sell back its stake due to "investment restrictions." While the board has moved to reassure fans that the club is financially secure, the team's performances were anything but reassuring.
The season began with Justin Edinburgh at the helm. He had arrived in January the previous season and steadied the ship, having had previous Football League experience with Newport County and Gillingham. However, he was one of the first casualties of the season and was sacked on 31st August after a poor run, including four straight defeats to begin the season.
And so, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink arrived on a three-year-deal with the club rooted to the foot of the table. The once Chelsea forward had impressed at Burton Albion, but lost his job at Queens Park Rangers in November 2016 and had been unemployed since. A string of good results followed his arrival, with the club rising to as high as 18th in mid January, but he was ultimately dismissed as results dwindled with the club's league position.
The Cobblers went on a winless nine game spell, which saw them slip back into the relegation zone and fall into 22nd position by early April.
Fans had already accepted the fate of the club by this point. Northampton looked doomed with a few weeks of the season to go. It seemed like it was fate. From the very start of pre-season, with the issues in ownership, it was like this season was always going to be an uphill battle. Dean Austin came in as caretaker boss to seal the club's fate. It was a return to League Two for the Cobblers.
And that is how this story begins...