Lawrence sent off, some questionable decisions throughout, Collins gave Town lead but Cobblers levelled on 90 minsTown: Jayson Leutwiler, Liam Lawrence (c), Jordan Clark, Nathaniel Knight-Percival, Mickey Demetriou, Ashley Vincent (James Collins, 44), James Wesolowski, Cameron Gayle, Andy Mangan (Ryan Woods, 28), Connor Goldson, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro (Scott Vernon, 83)
Subs not used: Mark Halstead, Jermaine Grandison, Andy Robinson, Aaron Wildig
Northampton Town: Matt Duke, Lee Collins (c), Marc Richards, John-Joe O’Toole, Chris Hackett (Lawson D’Ath, 64), Ben Tozer, Zander Diamond, Gregor Robertson (Ricky Ravenhill, 68), Kaid Mohamed, Ivan Toney (Emile Sinclair, 68), Joel Byrom
Subs not used: Alex Nicholls, David Moyo, Jordan Archer, Sam Warburton
Referee: D. Deadman
Attendance: 4,369 (442 from Shrewsbury)
Martin Wild reports from Sixfields
A last minute goal from Emile Sinclair robbed Shrewsbury of a deserved victory against Northampton at Sixfields this afternoon. Town – reduced to 10 men after Liam Lawrence’s extremely harsh 27th minute dismissal – bossed much of the second period, and deservedly led through James Collins’ goal. But Sinclair got in front of Jayson Leutwiler to nod in a last minute cross to plunder a point for the home side.
Shrewsbury manager Micky Mellon named an unchanged starting line-up, with Aaron Wildig’s introduction on the bench the only difference to the 18 man squad from Tuesday night’s comfortable win over Accrington at the Greenhous. James Caton was the man to miss out.
The game started quietly enough with both sides cancelling each other out in the first 10 minutes. Ashley Vincent did put a really inviting low ball across the six yard box for Salop but Matt Duke read the danger and gathered low down. At the other end Leutwiler twice saved acrobatically from decent crosses within the space of a minute – one from open play and the other from a corner.
Leutwiler made a routine stop on 21 minutes with Kaid Mohamed’s shot from outside the box lacking sufficient power to trouble the Swiss goalkeeper.
It was a fairly non-descript affair with the hosts shading it in terms of possession, and Shrews yet to make their mark on proceedings with passes going astray and long spells without the ball.
There was a huge flashpoint after 26 minutes with Town skipper Lawrence receiving a straight red card for a midfield tussle with Joel Byrom. The Republic of Ireland international looked harshly done by with Darren Deadman giving himself no time to ponder his verdict. There was a coming together and Byrom neither complained nor fell to the turf – it looked like the sort of challenge you would see another 50 times without the need for an official to intervene. Lawrence couldn’t believe it but the referee had had his moment in the spotlight. If that was a red card incident we’ll soon enough be down to 7 a side. Andy Mangan was replaced almost immediately by Ryan Woods and Town were faced with half an hour a man down, with the whole dynamics of the game changed in an instant. But not even the home fans had appealed for a foul - it was that petty.
Cameron Gayle did well to clear Marc Richards’ flick on from close to his own goalline, though the effort appeared to be heading wide of the mark – a bit like Deadman’s view of the Lawrence incident that had the midfielder showering earlier than normal.
Before very long Mellon was shuffling his pack once more. Vincent struggled to maintain his run on the far side and pulled up in some discomfort. Skitty’s magic sponge was lacking the fairy dust and Collins replaced him a minute before half-time. Five minutes of added time came and went without incident – aside from another puzzling decision that saw Leutwiler carded for arguing an odd corner decision - and the teams went in deadlocked after a half without a single clear cut chance for either side.
Half Time: Northampton Town 0 Town 0
Northampton kicked off the second half with Town attacking the goal behind which their 442 fans were gathered. Suffice to say, the ‘welcome’ reserved for Mr. Deadman wasn’t the most friendly from the travelling Salopians.
Woods played in Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro ten minutes into the half with the striker having drifted in behind the last man. But the former Tranmere man couldn’t bring the ball under control and the chance was gone. Collins kept the ball alive and drove narrowly wide of the far post from a tight angle as Shrewsbury mounted their first sustained attacking spell of the match.
Just past the hour – and with a much more even feel about the game – Town came within a coat of paint of the lead. Jordan Clark sized up his opportunity and from fully 25 yards his dipping, curling shot deserved far better than to strike the crossbar with Duke flapping at thin air. It was a real let off for Chris Wilder’s men who were finding their opportunities becoming more and more limited.
The let off lasted less than a minute. A dreadful error by Zander Diamond left the home defender on his backside and Collo was away afforded the freedom of Sixfields. The Irishman kept his composure to find the top corner for a third goal of the season, with a smashing finish across Duke who was left dreadfully exposed by Diamond’s mistake. The Town fans behind that goal celebrated wildly and who could blame them?
Wilder made changes with his Northampton team struggling to make any inroads on a well-marshalled and resolute Town outfit. This Mellon team has already demonstrated a steely determination that was often lacking last season and the fans can clearly sense that.
Town had a glorious opportunity to extend that lead when another defensive howler briefly had them in a three-on-two situation. But Akpa Akpro’s intended crossfield pass for Woods wasn’t quite precise enough, and that gave Duke the chance to spring from his line in the nick of time to clear before the flame-haired midfielder could get his shot away. Woods was clearly frustrated as he picked up a yellow straight after for striking the ball into the net having already been pulled up for a marginal offside. The gaps were starting to appear in the Cobblers defence and Town were exploiting them. Scott Vernon replaced Akpa Akpro with the game into its last ten minutes and Shrews still looking good value for the points.
Collins immediately brought a full length save out of Duke with Town looking easily the better of the two sides despite their depleted numbers. Clark fired over with the clock running down and they paid dearly in the next attack. Substitute Sinclair pounced to head home an inviting cross from fellow sub Lawson D’Ath and the Sixfields side had themselves an undeserved equaliser.
Mohamed came close for the home side in the final minute of added on time, but it ended all square – and make no mistake, Wilder’s men had got out of jail!
Full Time: Northampton Town 1 Town 1