>Port Vale 1-1 Northampton Town
Saturday, February 12th 2011
There was a familiar feel to Saturday’s draw at Port Vale with the Cobblers grinding out an impressive point after Abdul Osman saw red contentiously. This result was just as impressive, then, as the one that almost mirrored it back in November. The only difference in the score line was that both sides found the net this time around and this one shades the November ’10 version for the fight back from a goal down and for a general performance that could easily have seen us collect all three points.
That was particularly after a first half in which the Cobblers dominated and with Leon McKenzie back in the starting line-up, the front line looked dangerous. Nothing against the unlucky and gutsy Billy McKay but when McKenzie and Harrad are together it looks like one of the most impressive front lines in the division.
It was Harrad making the early running and Vale keeper Chris Martin, keeping his place in front of Stuart Tomlinson, had to beat away his decent attempt in the first quarter. That was after Josh Walker had seen his long range effort tipped over in a good start for Sammo’s men.
The Cobblers had to battle hard though and at the other end a combination of Dean Beckwith and Chris Dunn denied Jay O’Shea just before half time.
The second half brought the drama though, with the home side recovering well from a subdued first 45 by their standards to take the lead. Paul Rodgers was a little unlucky to see his challenge on Tom Pope result in a spot kick and Justin Richards sent Dunn the wrong way to give Vale hope of closing in on the top three once again.
But McKenzie was on a mission and just a few minutes later we were level when Andy Holt and Marcus Hall combined with the latter providing an inviting cross for the Town striker to nod home and set up what should have been a competitive last half an hour.
Indeed it was the Cobblers who came closest soon after the equaliser with Harrad so unlucky not to notch his second goal for the club when he rattled the bar. But the tide was turned when Osman’s challenge on Doug Loft was deemed a sending off offence and Vale would once more have the chance to take us on with an extra man.
Josh Walker had to head the ball off the line before the end and we had to endure a fair bit of pressure but once again held out for a decent result in one of those games where you begin talks in the pub with “I would have taken a point before the game…”
So we still can’t break into the top half but it’s four games unbeaten and going into a couple of home games we’re in decent shape…now for the next step up!