>This latest defeat, another major blow to the Cobblers’ survival hopes, was a case of “same old, same old” as good chances were wasted before the almost inevitable late winner, scored by Rovers’ Jo Kuffour. The defeat means that we now face a nervous Saturday awaiting other results, although Carlisle’s draw and Yeovil’s win didn’t help matters.
The game could have started in a much more positive fashion as Adebayo Akinfenwa went close within the opening ten seconds, muscling past two defenders before shooting wide. At the other end, a good opening to the game saw Rickie Lambert play in Jo Kuffour and after the striker saw off the challenge of Adam Watts, making his Cobblers debut, he shot straight at Chris Dunn.
Lambert tried his luck from thirty yards out with a free kick on fifteen minutes before the Cobblers went up the other and Scott Vernon’s shot was deflected away. The ball broke to Ryan Gilligan, returning from injury, but his cross/shot was well wide. The Cobblers were showing good signs going forward but it was a glaring miss that would provide the major talking point of the first half.
After Giles Coke had shot against the outside of the post, The Cobblers were starting to look more dangerous going forward but Vernon was wasteful in front of goal mid-way through the half in an incident that could have changed the course of the game had it gone in. Jason Crowe broke well down the right hand side and his cross was met with a free header from the on loan Colchester man but he could only nod it straight at Rovers keeper Steve Phillips.
Rovers responded with a chance of their own with Jeff Hughes heading over the bar and Kuffour forced Dunn into a fine save with ten minutes of the half to go. But we held firm despite a chance for Lambert going begging and were probably the more happy of the two sides that the whistle went for the break with Rovers building up a head of steam.
With results not going for us elsewhere in the two other games involving relegation threatened sides, we need a positive second half. The Cobblers were close to going ahead right from the kick off once again with Gilligan battling his way into the area and setting up Vernon but the striker shot over when well placed.
Kuffour threatened soon after and sent a warning shot in after collecting a cross from Jeff Hughes but he made no mistake with just under twenty minutes to go as he fired in what could be a crucial moment in the Cobblers season.
David Pipe crossed the ball in and Chris Dunn went up to collect the ball but dropped it into the path of Kuffour who made no mistake to score what will be a pretty meaningless goal for the Gas but one that for the Cobblers could mean so much for all the wrong reasons.
Desperation, as in the defeat at Yeovil, set in late on as four strikers were on the pitch going into the final knockings. Vernon had a shot turned off the line before Akinfenwa had a good chance to level things with a free header of his own but he couldn’t direct it beyond Phillps. There was to be no late effort that was stopped on the line or hitting the woodwork like at Yeovil and the full time whistle went on another defeat.
Although this was an improved, more battling performance with Andy Holt and Ryan Gilligan giving more right to the midfield, the simple matter of good chances going begging and simple errors costing us means that we’re stuck in the bottom four going into the weekend. Carlisle were held eventually by Oldham but Yeovil’s win takes them further clear so all eyes are now on Saturday’s games as we wait with fingers fully crossed that nothing else goes wrong.
It’s not been a Good Friday for the Cobblers by any stretch of the imagination.