>Stale mate after the show

Morthampton Town 0-0 Barnet
League Two
Saturday, February 5th 2010

It was all too inevitable…after the mauling of Crewe on Tuesday night there was an expectant crowd baying for the blood of Barnet at Sixfields at the weekend. But unfortunately football has a way of biting you in the backside and bringing you right back down to earth. Let’s face it, if anyone was going to do it, it was our friends from Underhill, a constant pain in the backside for many a year ever since Barry Fry was seen dancing down the touchline like the original Jose Mourinho that he was/arguably still is.

It was also typical for the Cobblers, on a day of high drama and goals in the top four divisions of English football, to produce one of only two 0-0 draws in those leagues over the entire weekend! High winds were apparently to blame for a lack of entertainment but there’s more to it than that and we have to learn to keep momentum going. Having said that, four points from two games is still progress and though the tide isn’t turning as quick as we urgently need it to if we’re to make the playoffs, it’s still a lot better results wise.

Barnet will put a higher value on the result than we will but even though the point means that they have escaped the bottom two thanks to Burton having yet another game postponed the Bees face an uphill task to stay up. Most sides above them and around them have three or four games in hand and the draws need to turn into wins if the club are to remain a football league club for another season.

There were three changes for Sammo to work around for the game with Leon McKenzie and Andy Holt only making it to the bench while John Johnson missed out completely. Paul Rodgers returned at right back, Billy McKay came in up front after his goal in midweek and Francis Laurent started for the second time since joining in the transfer window. The alterations to a successful line-up from Tuesday can’t have been the best start for Sammo and he would ideally, I’m sure, have wanted to stick to the same eleven that began against Crewe.

It took until the mid-way point of the first half for the Cobblers to get the grips with the game with Josh Walker curling wide from a free kick. But it was the visitors who were pressing hardest and Marcus Hall twice had to clear the ball off the line before Mark Marshall tested Chris Dunn and forced him into a decent save.

Shaun Harrad went close to a second goal for the club but couldn’t round keeper Jake Cole and was also denied a penalty shout late in the half. The frustration continued after the break with Billy McKay heading against the cross bar from a Rodgers cross and then seeing another effort saved well by Cole.

McKenzie did see some action for the last fifteen minutes but he couldn’t turn the tide and we had to settle for a point. It’s still seven points from three games as we go into Port Vale and a big step up in terms of a challenge. It’ll be a huge test at Vale Park with their form beginning to turn with four points taken from two games against fellow promotion chasers in the last week.

Elsewhere in League Two this weekend…

Port Vale pulled off a fine result in a 1-1 draw at Wycombe and that means the hosts couldn’t make the most of Chesterfield’s third successive draw. The league leaders had to come from behind to score a late leveller once again and again it was Deane Smalley rescuing a point against Aldershot. Rotherham did take advantage though and saw off Crewe 3-1 at the Don Valley with Adam Le Fondre and Ryan Taylor doing the damage with late goals there.

Gillingham shared the only other 0-0 draw in England’s top four divisions as they were held by Oxford at the Priestfield but Shrewsbury ended Southend’s winning run with a 2-0 success at Roots Hall. Jon Taylor opened the scoring before Matt Harrold sealed the victory in Essex to lift the Shrews into fourth place.

Burton, as mentioned, are in the bottom two, after another postponement but Stockport fell victim to Torquay’s first win in five games to remain rock bottom. Macclesfield’s game at home to Bradford was postponed while Lincoln won a huge game at Hereford 1-0 with Delroy Facey netting the only goal of the game and a fifth league win in a row for the Imps who are up to fifteenth.

In a dramatic finish at Stevenage, Accrington scored twice in the final two minutes to earn a 2-2 draw with Terry Gornell and Andrew Proctor completing an unlikely fight back. Cheltenham remain just inside the top half following a 1-1 draw at Morecambe.

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