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Match report: Cheltenham Town 2 Northampton Town 2 (Cheltenham Fan's Perspective)

Tuesday 6th March 2012
Anyone who arrived at Whaddon Road expecting a mismatch between second placed Cheltenham and bottom side Northampton was soon given a rude awakening.

The Cobblers were by the far the better side in the first half, and their two-goal advantage could have been double that, but a treble change by Cheltenham boss Mark Yates turned the game around.

Top scorer Darryl Duffy took his goals tally to 14 with a 76th minute penalty and the 92nd minute leveller which grabbed the Rubies what could be a crucial point.

In Adebayo Akinfenwa, Northampton have a player who has become Cheltenham's nemesis down the years. He gave centre-backs Alan Bennett and Steve Elliott as searching an examination as they have had all season, and grabbed his seventh goal in his last eight games against Cheltenham.

Northampton took the lead when a short corner was played into the near post, finding Brett Williams whose shot hit the post only to fall to Ben Tozer to tap in from two yards - the first goal Cheltenham's on-loan goalkeeper Jack Butland has conceded at home to an opposition player this season.

Akinfenwa added the second when he rolled past Bennett on the edge of the box and flicked the ball past Butland, and the visitors could have scored even more goals. Williams missed a golden chance and, when Akinfenwa got away from Bennett and Elliott, only a poor touch gave Butland the chance to come out and block.

Cheltenham had been poor - Luke Summerfield having their best two chances, shooting wide and forcing Matt Duke into a tip over the bar. But with 57 minutes gone, Yates summoned the cavalry as Russ Penn, Kaid Mohamed and Duffy emerged from the bench, replacing Summerfield, Josh Low and Jeff Goulding.

All of a sudden, the hosts were laying siege to the Northampton goal but, led by the superb Clarke Carlisle and helped by two fine Duke saves, the Cobblers looked like keeping them at bay. But that all changed when referee Darren Sheldrake ruled that John Johnson handled in the box - he claimed it hit his face - and Duffy smashed the penalty in.

Cheltenham went all out for the equaliser and when Elliott won the ball, allowing Mohamed to poke it through for Duffy to roll the ball past Duke, Whaddon Road went wild with relief.

A draw was very rough on Northampton, who were one of the best organised sides to have visited Whaddon Road this season. On this evidence, they should have enough to stay in League Two, but it will be tight.

Mark Halliwell

Total articles: 7

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