>Fifth home draw of the season as spot kicks are the theme…

>Northampton Town 1-1 Port Vale
League Two
Saturday, December 12th 2009

It’s becoming a recurring theme of the score draw at Sixfields as the Cobblers once again failed to take a chance and inevitably came out with just one point against the only side in League Two with an equally poor home record in terms of stalemates. Adebayo Akinfenwa missed one and scored one penalty and the visitors survived almost the entire second half with ten men as another frustrating afternoon ensued at the Cobblers’ home.

Injuries hit Sammo as he tried to shape his team with Andy Holt’s absence being filled in by Paul Rodgers on the left hand side of midfield and Dean Beckwith returning to defence. One real surprise in the starting line up was that of Joe Benjamin who slotted in the midfield foursome after returning from his loan spell with Eastbourne Borough.

Marc Richards, the man who became a one season legend at Sixfields, was always going to be the main threat for the visitors and it was his free kick early on that was the best of the chances as the game got off to a slow chance. It took us around twenty minutes to get into the game with the live wire Courtney Herbert stepping up his recovery from injury as he almost sparked us into life with a good run and curling shot that forced Vale keeper Chris Martin into a good save.

The first half was a tame affair until the final couple of minutes when two penalties woke everyone at Sixfields up. First, Paul Rodgers was brought down and Adebayo Akinfenwa stepped up but saw his spot kick well saved by Martin. Vale, typically, went up the other end and were awarded a penalty of their own when Chris Dunn pulled down an onrushing Louis Dodds and Richards made no mistake to put his side in front. Dunn could be said to be lucky to stay on the pitch, particularly with what happened early in the second half.

Akinfenwa was pulled down by John McCombe and as the last man the Vale man was sent off whereas Dunn was only booked before the break for his offence. Ian Sampson acknowledged after the game that his keeper was fortunate in his offence but either way, Bayo put his spot kick away and the game was all square with the visitors down to ten.

Dunn did well shortly after the goal to claw away a shot from Doug Loft and got to the rebound just before Richards before Gary Mulligan replaced Peter Gilbert in an attacking move by Sammo. Gilligan and Mulligan were both denied by Chris Martin as we tried to find the winner but the Vale keeper again reacted at the speed of sound to keep us out.

Joe Benjamin had the last effort of the game but shot over and it was the fifth home draw in eleven games at Sixfields this season. Vale will be the happier of the sides this evening as they keep in touch with the top half but the Cobblers remain closer to the drop zone than we are to twelfth!

Just two places now separate us from the drop zone in League Two, something unthinkable in the summer, let alone at the start of the calendar year. We’ll be delighted to see the back of 2009…

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