Cheltenham Town produced a fine comeback to record a point here at the Abbey Business Stadium despite being 2-0 down to Northampton at half time.
First half goals from Ben Tozer and Adebayo Akinfenwa really gave Cheltenham everything do in the second period with the Robins struggling to get any kind of foothold in the match but the triple substitution of Russ Penn, Kaid Mohamed and Darryl Duffy changed things.
A Duffy penalty and injury time strike pulled the Robins kicking and screaming back into the game to record what could be a vital point.
Robins chief Mark Yates made just the one change to his starting line-up this afternoon with Russ Penn dropping to the bench and Luke Summerfield taking his place alongside Marlon Pack in the midfield. There were no other changes for the Robins following a decent 2-0 victory over Burton Albion the week before. Swindon Town lost earlier in the day so a posiitve result for Cheltenham would see them close the gap on the league leaders.
Sunshine was beaming upon the Abbey Business Stadium this afternoon with both teams desperate for three points but for very different reasons. It was bottom of the table Northampton who began the game with decent pressure but Cheltenham with the first efforts on goal. Marlon Pack's freekick and Jimmy Spencer's angled efforts were fine but warning shots at best. The Cobblers hadn't started this game looking like a team struggling at the bottom of the division however and Guttridge almost found a way in front with a decent long range shot which had to be saved low by Jack Butland. Moments later Cheltenham Town were scrambling to protect their goal when Guttridge found Tozer unmarked but Alan Bennett got across quickly to block the shot on goal.
Efforts from Spencer and Goulding seemingly signalled Cheltenham's growing stature in this fixture but it was Northampton who took the lead on 21 minutes through Ben Tozer. Jacobs' delivery was drifted in and the shot from Williams struck the post allowing Tozer to finish from close range and hand the Cobblers a very important lead. Northampton continued to pile the pressure on Cheltenham with the Robins looking a little out of sorts when in possession. The hosts did however almost find an equaliser when Summerfield looped in a shot from the edge of the area following the corner but Duke was on hand to tip it over the bar and maintain his side's lead.
A break from Cheltenham promised to heap pressure on the Northampton goal but McGlashan was unable to turn in Spencer's cross ball and even Low wasn't able to finish off the rebound effort. It was a missed chance they would live to regret when Akinfenwa picked up on Johnson's through ball, turned Bennett and poked Northampton's second in at the bottom corner to stretch the lead to 2-0. That scoreline could have easily been 3-0 when Adebayo Akinfenwa burst through the middle with a one on one opportunity but Jack Butland made a superb save at his feet to deny Northampton. Cheltenham immediately went on the counter and almost found a way back into the match when the cross ball found Summerfield but the midfielder put it past the far post.
43 minutes in and Northampton were pretty rampant with Akinfenwa causing all kinds of problems. It was Williams however who could have and should have made it 3-0 when he was found hardly marked inside the area but his poor effort dribbled wide of the goal and allowed Cheltenham to re-group. The first half finally ended with Northampton on top and Cheltenham in need of some kind of inspiration to get themselves back into this contest.
Half Time: Cheltenham 0-2 Northampton
There were no changes at the break but Cheltenham did almost change the scorelines minutes after kick off when Luke Summerfield's superb volley had to be pushed away by Matt Duke to maintain Northampton's lead. A good start to the half for Cheltenham but more needed to get back into this game. The Cobblers did however settle back into the game and Mark Yates decided to lay all his cards on the table by making a triple substitution. Darryl Duffy, Russ Penn and Kaid Mohamed replaced Jeff Goulding, Luke Summerfield and Josh Low on 58 minutes.
Cheltenham were edging this half and the substitutes added the extra dimension they needed to start getting in at Northampton's defence. McGlashan forced a very good save from Duke at his near post but the Cobblers once again proved too stubborn and continued to hold onto their two goal lead. The Cobblers were producing a defensive display of the highest quality and it was becoming more and more unlikely that the Robins would find anything from this game after a disastrous first half.
The Robins were handed a lifeline in this game after 76 minutes when Johnson handled inside his own area. Darryl Duffy stepped up and slammed the ball into the back of the net for 2-1. A glimmer of hope for the Robins but plenty of work to do if they were going to make a further impact on this game. Moments later there was another mass appeal for a penalty when Carlisle clearly had Duffy round the neck but the referee deemed it to be outside the area. The freekick was taken by Mohamed but it was driven into the wall and Garbutt's follow up effort was over the stand.
Cue time wasting tactics from the Cobblers as Cheltenham began to completely control the game and search for an equaliser. The Robins continued to push on and Jimmy Spencer saw his effort following another Robins corner fizz past the post agonisingly.
Four minutes added on time gave Cheltenham extra time find an equaliser in this game but Northampton were just about clinging onto their one goal lead with the Robins failing to find any way through UNTIL Darryl Duffy stepped up to the plate and stole a tremendous equaliser. Kaid Mohamed plowed through the middle and poked a neat ball through to Duffy who had peeled off his marker and the Scot expertly stabbed the ball home for 2-2. Amazing finish to what was an entertaining game of football.
Cheltenham Town had saved their afternoon by coming back from two goals down to record a point which keeps them within the promotion spots of npower League Two.
Full Time: Cheltenham 2-2 Northampton
Cheltenham Town FC (4-4-2): Butland (GK); Jombati, Bennett (C), Elliott, Garbutt; McGlashan, Summerfield (Penn 58), Pack, Low (Mohamed 58); Goulding (Duffy 58), Spencer
Subs not used: Lowe, Smikle
Northampton Town (4-1-4-1): Duke (GK); Johnson, Carlisle (C), Langmead, Adams; Tozer; Williams, Guttridge, Harding, Jacobs; Akinfenwa
Subs not used: Kitson (GK), Webster, Silva, Young, Robinson
Referee: Darren Sheldrake
Attendance: 3,503 (520 from Northampton)
Robins Star Man:Darryl Duffy - His impact completely changed the game along with Russ Penn and Kaid Mohamed. His brace won a vital point.
James Brown from the Abbey Business Stadium