Northampton Town 1-1 Mansfield Town
Saturday, March 15th 2014
It wasn’t quite what the Cobblers wanted from this weekend but, as has become the way under Chris Wilder, it certainly wasn’t a disaster and we head into Tuesday night’s clash with Rochdale at Sixfields still on an unbeaten run. It was another case of having to come from behind and against a big Mansfield side who are just keeping their heads above water it was a decent point in the end despite the Stags going down to ten men right before the equaliser.
At this stage of the season, and in particular in this closest of League Two campaigns, there’s just no use looking at the league table and planning where your points will come from. It would have been easy to think that this was a great chance to bag three more points but the Stags clearly had other ideas and were set up to stifle any momentum that we gained on Tuesday night at Exeter.
Indeed it was the visitors to strike first when Adam Murray played in Oliver Palmer who slotted in past Matt Duke to leave us with another tough battle on our hands. The unbeaten run was well and truly in doubt and Town were frustrated in attempts to get back into it before the break with Ricky Ravenhill firing over with the best effort before half time.
We were in need of a big turning point and it came just past the hour mark. Darryl Westlake put his hand in the way of an Alan Connell header and suddenly the Cobblers had a penalty and an extra man after Westlake was shown a straight red card for the incident. Darren Carter duly obliged in levelling and with a staggering THREE goals this season is now the club’s top scorer!
With the impetus now well on the Cobblers Zander Diamond headed over the bar but it wasn’t all one way traffic with Mansfield creating chances of their own through Anthony Howell and Colin Daniel. Chris Hackett got on the end of an Alan Connell cross but fired wide and that was as good as it got for the final quarter of the game with the points shared and Mansfield, as with Bristol Rovers two weeks ago, left Sixfields the happier of the two sides with a draw.
Whilst there’ll be plenty of disappointment with the result it still makes it six games without defeat and keeps the mini run going. Tuesday against Rochdale is a game in hand on many teams above us and if we can cause what would be considered an upset then we’ll be level on points with Exeter, who drew at Newport on Sunday afternoon. That in itself would provide a huge psychological boost to have finally closed the gap and whilst there’s still so much football to be played it would start to look more and more in our own hands.
There’s plenty to work on before Tuesday with the possibility of new loan signing Cristian Lopez making a starting appearance after coming from the bench for the last few minutes of this one. Lopez filled in the ‘big man’ place on the team sheet and replaces the recalled John Marquis who we could have done with against a strong and powerful Stags outfit.
Rochdale will bring with them their own dangers of course and have the chance to go top of the league if they pick up the win at Sixfields and Chesterfield slip up at Plymouth.
There’s so little between most of the clubs in this division, though, that every game from now on becomes unpredictable, and in turn, keep us all on the very edge of our seats and at the edge of our nerves.