Leonard and Turns challenging for League Two promotion

By Charlie Hanson • 28 March 2023

By Pete Norton
Marc Leonard's Northampton Town face Stevenage this Saturday.

On-loan midfielder Marc Leonard is playing a big part in Northampton Town’s bid for automatic promotion from League Two.

Leyton Orient and Stevenage appeared to have sewn up the automatic promotion spots but a place in the top two and an immediate return to League One is now beckoning for the Cobblers.

Leonard has been a key player after they made it three consecutive victories and seven without defeat with a 2-0 win against Doncaster on Saturday.

That put them five points behind leaders Orient, who defender Ed Turns joined on loan in January, while they sit two points ahead of Stevenage, who have a game in hand. The teams meet this Saturday.

“Ed joined Orient a week after we beat them and he asked me what they were like,” Marc recalled. “I told him he’d fit in really well. Orient want to play and to pass, but Ed is also really physical for a younger player.

By Pete Norton
Marc Leonard has featured regularly for Northampton this campaign.

“We have had a bit of a banter, they conceded late on at the weekend to draw while we won, so I was texting him saying ‘watch out, we’re coming after you!’”

A small mid-season blip appeared to have cost Jon Brady’s team their hopes of automatic promotion, but if they can get a good result in this Saturday’s game against Stevenage the Cobblers have the chance to strengthen their place in the top two.

“It was difficult to look up when it felt like you had to watch out for the teams behind you, as we were closer to fourth than second at one stage,” Leonard added. “We’ve been quietly confident about what we can do, we know that we can beat those top teams.

“We’ve had ten or 11 injuries, which is especially tough at this stage of the season as you need everybody. The games are coming thick and fast and it means so much to get three points at this stage, so this bit of form that we’ve hit hasn’t been easy to put together.

“But having so many players missing has actually brought us together a bit more and we’re dealing with that pressure. We play the same XI every week, Saturday, Tuesday. It’s been an uphill battle the last few weeks but we’ve relished it.”

The 21-year-old says his focus quickly changed from wanting personal success by playing every week to doing well for his loan club.

By Pete Norton
Jon Brady's side are second in League Two.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the pressure of needing to win every week. When you first arrive you just want to get into the team, but once you do that you feel a part of things and you want the pressure of battling to stay near the top of the league.

“I think I’ve only missed one game. The manager and staff here have been transparent with me because it can be difficult to ease a player in who is on loan from a Premier League academy into these games.

“They’ve made it seamless and have let me play how I want to, and they’ve given me that belief that I can be a part of a team that gets positive results every week. I’ve had to dig in and make sure that I’ve been fit and able to play every week.

“At the start of the season every game was taking so much out of me. I hadn’t experienced it before but then you get used to playing every three days and you can’t wait for the next one, there’s no better feeling.”