Northampton Town 0, Crawley Town 0
After struggling on the road for much of the season Reds are now undefeated in three away from home in League 2 after a hard-fought goalless draw at the PTS Stadium.
It was only Reds’ fifth stalemate of the league campaign in contrast to the hosts, who have now shared the spoils 15 times.
Both teams had their chances with Tom Dallison, Ollie Palmer and Dominic Poleon all going close for Reds, who also defended resolutely to restrict the Cobblers to only a handful of opportunities.
A clean sheet will please Gaby Cioffi, after his side conceded three in the last 20 minutes against Oldham last week, and the point keeps Reds in 17th place and nine clear of the bottom two.
Cioffi made two changes with Poleon replacing Luke Gambin (hip injury) and Dannie Bulman restored to the starting line-up as Josh Payne dropped to the bench.
The game’s first clear-cut chance fell to Dallison on 17 minutes. George Francomb’s ball in was helped on by Joe McNerney but Dallison’s header was well saved by David Cornell.
Northampton, who won 1-0 in a bad-tempered game at The People’s Pension Stadium in December, threatened for the first time moments later when John Joe O’Toole connected with Jack Bridge’s cross but couldn’t find the target from a decent position.
On loan Derby midfielder Tim Elsnik volleyed wide with his left foot but that came two minutes before the break – a measure of how well both sides defended to restrict chances at either end in the opening half.
The second period was more open but neither Ash Taylor’s header and Filipe Morais’s daisy-cutter in response tested the respective custodians early on in the half.
But Cornell was called into action on 57 minutes and responded, getting his angles right to deny Palmer from a similar position he’d scored against Bury from a fortnight ago after the 13-goal striker had been played in by Panutche Camara.
Morris then made his first serious save on the hour when O’Toole caught his volley sweetly on the edge of the box but the Reds’ keeper pushed it away at full stretch.
Payne replaced Morais with 20 minutes to go and five minutes later Palmer was left frustrated again, this time after he was set up by Francomb for a shot which Taylor did well to block.
Palmer then had appeals for a penalty turned down after he appeared to be shoved inside the box before Northampton fans thought the deadlock had been broken in the 82nd minute. Joe Powell hit a brilliant free kick from 30 yards and home fans were celebrating – until they realised his effort had hit the side netting.
There was still time for Reds to create arguably their best chance in stoppage time. Poleon broke into the box on the left but instead of squaring the ball to the unmarked Palmer he elected to shoot and Cornell made another excellent save at close range.
Honours even then and a good point – and performance – by Reds.
Team: Morris: Young, Francomb, McNerney, Dallison, Sesay; Bulman; Morais (sub: Payne 70), Camara, Poleon; Palmer. Unused subs: Mersin, Maguire, N’Gala, Nathaniel-George, Willock.
Attendance: 4581 (123 away)
Picture: Tom Dallison is denied by David Cornell during the first half. Photo by James Boardman