Northampton Town 1-1 Cheltenham Town
BILLY McKay saw his opener wiped out, as Cheltenham fought back to claim a 1-1 draw at the Sixfields Stadium.
The Cobbler’s made one change from the team which saw off Lincoln City on Monday afternoon, with Ryan Gilligan returning from a bout of pneumonia to fill the void left by Ryan Jarvis, whose loan spell has now ended.
Northampton started the game fielding a 4-5-1 formation, with club captain Andy Holt sat behind lone striker McKay. Perhaps not your archetypal strike force.
Still, it was the home side who broke the deadlock on nine minutes, when Andy Holt latched onto a long ball forward and displayed great composure to deliver a clinical cross which McKay duly headed in from close range to claim his second goal in as many games.
The remainder of the opening half favoured The Cobblers, who were unfortunate not to extend their lead just before the interval; most notably when a Michael Jacobs cross pinged off Holt’s midriff before falling into the grateful arms of Robins keeper Scott Brown.
Cheltenham’s players must have still had their managers half-time team-talk ringing in their ears when they returned to the field and it took less than three second-half minutes for the away side to level matters.
Another long-ball forward provided another goal as Robins livewire, Wes Thomas showed a great turn of pace to beat both Ben Tozer and goalkeeper Chris Dunn to the ball to poke home from just inside the 18-yard area.
Home boss Ian Sampson reacted by making a double substitution on the hour mark; loanee Craig King replaced Billy McKay, with Ryan Gilligan taken off for local boy Courtney Herbert, who took up a position wide on the right-flank.
It was almost 2-1 to the away-side minutes later, but on this occasion, Thomas could only find the side netting with a rasping drive from the edge of the box.
Indeed, the pace of Thomas was on show for all to see, but injury forced him to leave the pitch as part of a double-substitution for the Gloucestershire based side on 77 minutes, and his departure came the end of Cheltenham’s attacking venom. The Cobblers also made their third and final change with Kevin Thornton replacing Nathaniel Wedderburn.
In truth, Northampton had the better of the game and they were presented with their big chance to claim the three points with just minutes left on the clock, when Davis’ cross was met by an Andy Holt scissor-kick that appeared to sail just inches wide.
The home side ended proceedings with 10 men however, when substitute Thornton pulled up with what looked to be a nasty hamstring injury. However, despite a late Cheltenham free-kick which Dunn had to be alert to tip around the post, there was no further incident of note and after playing out five additional minutes, the whistle was blown as the two sides shared the spoils.
Cobblers line-up: Dunn; Johnson, Davis, Beckwith, Tozer; Gilligan (sub Herbert 60), Jacobs, Osman, Wedderburn (sub Thornton 77), Holt; McKay (sub King 60) Subs not used: Walker, Rodgers, Hall, Hinton.
northampton.footballblog.co.uk MOM: Michael Jacobs – Incisive running. Tantilising crosses. This lad has a great future ahead of him.