Northampton Town 0-1 Portsmouth
Monday, April 21st 2014
The most frustrating part of a tennis match usually comes when the player you’re supporting suddenly gets a series of break points after levelling at deuce but then proceeds to drop them time and again. That’s kind of what this feels like after another round of League Two games saw the Cobblers presented with a perfect chance to jump out of the bottom two when Rochdale were added to our Christmas card list when they beat Bristol Rovers. We needed just a point from the game with the newly safe from relegation Portsmouth to finally escape the drop zone that we’ve made ourselves at home in since late September.
But again we’re not talking about safety in expectation rather than hope and again the main talking point is the lack of a genuine goal threat that could well be the ball and chain that holds us back from getting above that line. Pompey were never in absolute top gear and the Cobblers produced some good moments and a much more believable fight than previous home defeats but at the end of it all we remain in the drop zone on goal difference.
Of all the former Cobblers to revisit Sixfields this season you wouldn’t have found many to name Danny East as one to come back to haunt us but he did just that by scoring the only goal of the game after just a few minutes to settle the visitors and give Town a hill to climb again. It took us until the half hour mark to get back in the game and start to pose a threat but when presented with an absolutely glorious chance, Emile Sinclair completely missed a glaring header after a good ball in from Evan Horwood. It was a moment that will be replaying with Cobblers fans all evening and into the night and is typical of the form of late from the man who was originally plucked out to try and spearhead the attack of a survival bid.
The scarily more prolific Darren Carter tested Trevor Carson right at the end of the half but it would be Sinclair’s miss that Town fans would be talking about over their half time Bovrils. It clearly affected Chris Wilder’s thinking with Sinclair hauled off in place of young Ivan Toney for the second half in both an act of notice to Sinclair that patience is running out and an act of faith to his replacement who equipped himself well after taking to the field.
Toney put a header just over as the atmosphere started to crank up and John Marquis followed that with an effort that Carson did well to save. The final change for us came when Kelvin Langmead came on for his second appearance since coming back from that long injury and was thrown right into the mix up front in a desperate bid for the crucial point. As we pushed forward there were inevitable gaps opening up at the back and Matt Duke had to be at his very best to keep out Pompey substitute Ricky Holmes.
It wouldn’t matter though as Langmead’s late deflected effort was the best we could muster and the travelling army of Pompey fans went home happy to the south coast.
With Wycombe losing at Fleetwood it’s just about as you were once again and with the Chairboys hosting Bristol Rovers on Saturday we know that nothing will be concluded at the weekend and it goes to the final day no matter what. Just what we need from the Oxford game will be dictated by what we do at Dagenham and with that other huge game between the sides just above us we know that a win at Victoria Park would be pivotal. Scoring the goals that create a victory is another matter though and with such big question marks over the lack of conviction in front of goal it’s not easy to see how we get there.
But get there we really, really must.