Carlisle will equal a club record of seven consecutive league wins if they prevail at Northampton this weekend. That mark in time was made 13 seasons ago – and a trip to the Sixfields Stadium conjures some glorious memories.

The seven-match string put together by Paul Simpson’s 2005/6 team took them convincingly clear at the top of League Two. It came at a time United’s most recent promotion season gathered superb momentum.

Two weeks after hitting the summit with a 5-0 win against Chester in early February, Simpson’s team hit a gallop. Rushden were cuffed aside by the same scoreline to start the sequence, then came a 2-1 victory at old foes Barnet.

An epic LDV Vans Trophy northern final went United’s way at Macclesfield on a cold Tuesday night and then, three days later, a trip to face one of their promotion rivals.

The Cobblers, under Colin Calderwood, were two points behind United in fourth, one of five sides realistically in the race. “Whoever sits at the top of the league has that bit of added pressure,” said the home manager.

Carlisle had also never won an away game against Northampton while the hosts had lost just twice in 20. Calderwood had fit-again striker Andy Kirk at his disposal but any hope of facing a jaded Blues side was tempered with the knowledge that cup-tied talisman Michael Bridges was back, along with captain Kevin Gray, rested at Macclesfield.

A back injury ruled Peter Murphy out and, for United’s ability to adjust with some influential players, it was Northampton who made the more positive start on a smooth pitch. Veteran Ian Taylor set the midfield tone with Jason Crowe raiding down the right.

As was often the case in Carlisle’s spirited campaign, they had to weather early pressure. Danny Livesey bravely blocked a Kirk header while Keiren Westwood saved from Taylor. United sought to counter-attack but were jolted again when Gavin Johnson hit the crossbar from 30 yards.

It was the final reprieve United needed, for moments later they led. Typically, in a prolific, 26-goal season, it was Karl Hawley who opened the scoring, showing deadly instinct to intercept a Crowe backpass and round keeper Lee Harper.

This gave United a cushion as the Cobblers came back, Westwood superbly denying Eoin Jess before, in the second half, the Blues’ midfield imposed themselves and Hawley and Bridges started to further examine a home back line that included future Burnley boss Sean Dyche.

Hawley stretched and worried Dyche, having an attempt cleared off the line then having another shot saved by Harper. At the other end, home sub Jason Lee, the former Nottingham Forest man and reluctant icon of the Fantasy Football League years, headed narrowly wide.

All this, though, was build-up to the night’s great moment, which came on 73 minutes. Bridges, a bold January signing from Bristol City after a fine loan spell, took up position outside the box to control a Hawley header. The former Premier League man cushioned the ball and then sent in a brilliant 25-yard volley which Harper could only help into the top corner.

It was the stunning act that broke Northampton. Carlisle’s 796 travelling supporters were jubilant and had further cause to cheer 10 minutes later when Livesey made it three, the big defender turning in Adam Murray’s corner.

It was, on this Friday night, a resounding declaration of intent. “You’ve just seen the champions,” the away fans sang, and their 3-0 win put them five points clear of the play-offs with 10 games to go.

The way they attacked the remainder killed the argument. Next up they smashed Darlington 5-0 and by the time Boston, Lincoln and Grimsby had been accounted for, a record had been broken. Bridges settled some tight games and then promotion was sealed with an injury-time Hawley goal at Mansfield, the title wrapped up two weeks later.

It was only the third championship in United’s history, a second straight promotion after the previous year’s bounce-back from the Conference. They finished eight points clear of fourth, with 84 goals and 86 points; a golden finale to Simpson’s playing career and, in the end, his United managerial days, for he left for Preston that summer.

Northampton went up in second and the sides battled further in League One. Now they meet again, in different sections of the fourth tier, United hoping to create new memories by sustaining their current, formidable run.

Northampton: Harper, Chambers, Dyche, Johnson, Crowe, Doig, Hunt (Lee), Taylor (Gillingan), McGleish (Smith), Jess, Kirk. Not used: Bunn, Hand.

United: Westwood, Arnison, Aranalde, Gray, Livesey, Billy, Lumdson, A Murray, Holmes (Hackney), Hawley (G Murray), Bridges. Not used: Williams, McGill, Grand.

Crowd: 7,045.