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Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 20:13 GMT
Cobblers enjoy promotion party
Ian Atkins
Ian Atkins left Northampton by "mutual consent"
The good times were back at the Sixfields Stadium as a stirring end-of-season run saw the Cobblers bounce back into Division Two after claiming the third automatic promotion spot.

Even the battle-weary faithful could look back at an unusually unpredictable campaign.

Manager Ian Atkins, who had pulled a few rabbits out of the hat in his time at the helm, left the club at the end of October "by mutual consent", finally worn down, no doubt, by keeping the team going with the sort of budget that would pay Roy Keane for a week.

Former Northern Ireland international Kevin Wilson stepped up from assistant to breathe new life into the players, but the new millennium hardly dawned with promotion top of the agenda.

A dazzling end to the season changed all that, with promotion clinched thanks to a 2-1 win at Torquay - goals from Jamie Forrester and Steve Howard doing the job after an earlier strike from the home side had threatened the all-claret party on the English Riviera.

Automatic promotion robbed the Cobblers of a potentially lucrative play-off run, and a chance to recreate the magic of the Wembley final of 1997, but this way was better for the nerves - and with arch-rivals Peterborough overtaken and left behind in the play-off zone, what Northamptonian could ask for more?

Division Two may not be any easier this time round, but Wilson swooped to sign Forrester, Marco Gabbiadini and Chris Hargreaves before June was out.

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