Full Time: Cobblers 2-3 RobinsCheltenham Town showed great character and fight to beat Northampton 3-2 despite going 2-0 down after just 13 minutes.
Cheltenham couldn't have wished for a worse start with Northampton's two danger weapons hitting hard immediately. Akinfenwa gave the lead to the hosts in under a minute and a Ben Tozer long throw caused havoc and led to a Billy Jones own goal. Cheltenham however responded well and goals from Darren Carter and Chris Zebroski brought the Robins level. The second half was a tighter affair but the introduction of Darryl Duffy paid dividends when Carter's perfect pass found the striker and he did the rest with a low drive into the bottom corner.
Northampton huffed and puffed but couldn't break the Robins down and it was a fine three points for Mark Yates' Cheltenham.
It was an interesting team selection this afternoon with Sido Jombati, Russ Penn and Chris Zebroski were all recalled to the starting eleven with Yates opting for five across the defence. In truth it seemed as though Keith Lowe would have the duty of taming the beast that is Akinfenwa when the Cobblers were attacking. Marlon Pack and Jermaine McGlashan were both on the bench from the start of this game with both currently on four yellow cards.
Without a doubt Akinfenwa was always going to cause problems but Cheltenham wouldn't have guessed the speed in which he would. The big striker started an early attack off himself from kick off and Demontagnac fired in a low drive for the powerful striker to finish off past Brown for 1-0. A dismal start for the Robins here at Sixfields. A half chance for Demontagnac minutes later was smothered by Brown but the warning signs were there for Cheltenham. The Robins' first real attack came from the corner and Keith Lowe's header forced Nicholls into a superb one handed save to deny an equaliser. Sido Jombati had a left footed volley narrowly lift over the crossbar afterwards in what was a positive spell of pressure for Mark Yates' team.
Cheltenham had reacted well but it all got worse when Ben Tozer's long throw made it's first impact of the day. The throw sailed in with Bennett heading the ball behind only for it to strike Billy Jones and rebound back into the net for 2-0. The Cobblers could have had a third on 17 minutes had Scott Brown not been alert from Hornby's 40 yard strike designed to catch him off his line. Cheltenham were all over the place and were struggling to settle into their football as Northampton pushed on. Keith Lowe was proving to be Cheltenham's goal threat at this stage of the game but his second effort of the day was well wide following positive play from Taylor and Zebroski. It was Chris Zebroski who started to really force the issue with the Cobblers defence and some excellent footwork allowed the forward to drive himself into the box and play a low cross across goal for the incoming Darren Carter who made no mistake in slamming the ball into the back of the net. It was a good fightback from Cheltenham and it got better for the sky blue Robins when Zebroski was fouled by Carlisle 25 yards from goal. The left back's pin point set piece found the head of the troublesome Zebroski who steered it into the back of the net for 2-2.
There few immediate chances after the fourth goal of the game but it had turned into a real midfield battle which Cheltenham were winning with Penn and Carter putting themselves about. Adebayo Akinfenwa had a good opportunity in added time of this half but his header from Tozer's cross was comfortably wide of Brown's goal.
Half Time: Northampton 2-2 Cheltenham
The second half started on a much more positive note for Cheltenham and Shaun Harrad could have even given the Robins a lead had his poked effort from 18 yards nipped inside the post. There were a few words said between Demontagnac and Penn in the opening minutes with the Cobblers winger being unnecessarily mischievous but he was booked minutes later for a stupid foul on Penn. Cheltenham came close again on 55 minutes when a Jombati cross flashed in front of Harrad and Taylor before trickling wide, all it needed was a touch. Scott Brown needed to be aware minutes later though when a Northampton cross from the right wing found Akinfenwa at the back post but the Robins shot stopper was on hand to block and gather the loose ball.
Northampton were recovering and another Tozer long throw was cleared into the path of Akinfenwa who struck against the bar before the rebound was blocked. Cheltenham were breathing a sigh of relief and thankful the Northampton predator hadn't scored again. He was at it again on 62 minutes but his header was wide of goal and Cheltenham re-grouped. The Cobblers made a double substitution after 64 minutes with Jake Robinson and Clive Platt adding an extra attacking arm at the expense of Demontagnac and Hornby. Tozer's throws were continuing to prove troublesome and one even found it's way into the back of the net but Darren Carter was on the line and on hand to clear. Harding came close for the hosts before Keith Lowe was booked for a challenge on the midfielder but Northampton's set piece came to nothing. Cheltenham made their own double change with Darryl Duffy and Kaid Mohamed replacing Chris Zebroski and Shaun Harrad.
The Cobblers continued to pressure Cheltenham and an Akinfenwa overhead kick needed a low save by Brown to protect the scorelines. Carter was fouled moments later 20 yards from goal just right off centre and Jones' freekick was decent but comfortable for Nicholls. Northampton were still so dangerous but it was Cheltenham that took the lead for the very first time on 80 minutes when Carter's through ball found Duffy and the Scot fired a low drive into the bottom corner for 3-2. A wonderful goal for a wonderful finisher.
It was a fantastic final ten minutes with a real tenacity etched into the game and Hackett have his home fans false hope when his shot slammed into the side netting for a goal kick. Marlon Pack was brought on in place of the impressive Jake Taylor on 90 minutes as Cheltenham tried to close down for all three points. Another effort from Hackett deep into injury time flew wide of Brown's goal as the home fans grew in frustration but it was the Robins that ended the game as victors and deservedly so for an impressive fightback.
Full Time: Northampton 2-3 Cheltenham
Northampton Town FC (4-2-3-1): Nicholls (GK); Tozer, Carlisle, Langmead (C), Widdowson; Huws, Harding; Hornby (Platt 64), Hackett, Demontagnac (Robinson 64); Akinfenwa
Subs not used: Snedker (GK), Charles, Mukendi, Moult
Cheltenham Town FC (4-1-4-2): Brown (GK); Jombati, Bennett (C), Elliott, Jones; Taylor (Pack 90), Carter, Penn, Zebroski (Duffy 72); Harrad (Mohamed 72)
Subs not used: Roberts (GK), Deering, D'Ath, McGlashan
Referee: Mr. Andy Davies
Attendance: 4,625 (264 from Cheltenham)
Robins Star Man: Darren Carter - A goal, an assist and a solid performance in midfield.