Reds showed their battling qualities yet again as they came from 2-0 down to secure a point with a stoppage-time equaliser against the Cobblers in a hard-fought League 2 tussle at the PTS Academy Stadium.
The hosts had led 2-0 with 20 minutes left thanks to Chris Lines’ controversial 15th-minute penalty and a first senior goal for Shaun McWilliams on the hour. Crucially, as it turned out, keeper Glenn Morris saved a second Lines’ spot-kick just after the break.
Substitute Ashley Nathaniel-George sparked Reds into life with 20 minutes to go when he scored his first goal of the season. Then in the fifth of six added minutes the winger found Josh Doherty in the box and the defender’s low shot found its way past David Cornell.
Gabriele Cioffi made four changes to the side which shared four goals with Plymouth last Tuesday as Tom Dallison, Ollie Palmer, George Francomb and Lewis Young came in with Young taking over from Dannie Bulman as captain. Injury ruled out Panutche Camara.
Northampton took a controversial lead in the 15th minute when Nathan Ferguson was penalised as he cleared the ball and collided with Charlie Goode. Referee Andy Haines ignored protests to award a penalty which Lines tucked into the corner.
Reds should have equalised on the half-hour when Mason Bloomfield teed up top scorer Bez Lubala eight yards out but Goode got back to clear his side-footer off the line.
Cornell saved from Reece Grego-Cox and Reds finished the half on top, but on 49 minutes it looked as if their hard work would be undone when Doherty fouled James Hennigan and the Cobblers had a second more obvious penalty. But this time Lines went down the middle and Morris made a comfortable save.
However it was 2-0 on the hour. Will Hoskins picked out McWilliams from right and the youngster’s left-foot volley was too powerful for Morris.
Cioffi had thrown on all three subs midway through the half when Nathaniel-George came on for Lubala and he didn’t take long to make an impact, dropping the shoulder and ghosting inside before finding the bottom corner with a powerful drive from the edge of the box.”
Another sub, Dannie Bulman, wasn’t far away with a shot from distance but Northampton appeared to be seeing the game out – until Doherty found the perfect time to score his first goal for Reds.
Reds: Morris; Young © (Sesay 54’), Dallison, Tunnicliffe, Doherty; Lubala (Nathaniel-George 67’), Francomb, Ferguson (Bulman 45’), Grego-Cox; Bloomfield, Palmer. Unused subs: Luyambula, Galach, Allarakhia, Sendles-White.
Attendance: 5121 (233 Crawley)