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Northampton Town ended their goal scoring draught on Tuesday 17th October, fighting back to earn a 2-2 draw away at Rochdale.
It was a run which spanned over 500 minutes of football, including a 6-0 hammering to Bristol Rovers, and finally came to end through the most unlikeliest of sources. Despite having strikers such Alex Revell, Marc Richards, Billy Waters, Sam Hoskins and Chris Long amongst the ranks, it was centre-half Ash Taylor who ended the baron run, meeting Matt Grimes’ corner with his head and finding the bottom corner.
After the hammering to Bristol Rovers on 7th October, Northampton had a must win game at home to AFC Wimbledon on the 14th, the team just above them in the table. For this game, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink rung the changes, bringing youngster Shaun McWilliams back in, handing Lewis McGugan his first league start for the club and partnering Sam Hoskins and Billy Waters down the middle.
Despite this appearing to be such a positive line-up, the chances were hard to come by, and when Harry Forrester fired in for the Dons, it became clear that AFC Wimbledon were heading to their first ever victory over the town, and that relegation fears were becoming more of a reality.
The result left a sour taste in the Cobbler’s mouths, in that following the shocking result to Bristol Rovers, an immediate bounce back was needed and losing to a fellow struggler was unfathomable. One positive from this game however was the return to the line-up of the talismanic John-Joe O’Toole, a player so important to Northampton Town.
This meant that a loss on Tuesday 17th away at the side just above the relegation zone, Rochdale, was simply out of the question. Again, Hasselbaink made changes to his line-up, bringing Regan Poole back in to screen the back four and starting Chris Long in attack.
After Ian Henderson volleyed Rochdale into the lead after 25 minutes, it threatened to be yet another poor defeat for the side. Things were to get even worse, as despite Matt Ingram keeping out Henderson’s penalty, he could only parry it back into the striker’s path, and he got his second of the game.
What is extremely confusing for Northampton fans is that players like Ian Henderson struggled to score when playing for the Cobblers, yet find the net for fun elsewhere. Furthermore, it seems that many ex-Cobblers appear to enjoy scoring against the club, as Michael Jacobs, Ricky Holmes, Billy Bodin and now Henderson among others have all done so this season.
Despite falling further behind, the Cobblers continued to press in and create chances, with Aaron Pierre having a volley cleared off the line. From a Matt Grimes corner, Ash Taylor crept in to the box seemingly out of nowhere and headed unmarked into the bottom corner, ending the goal draught and bringing the Cobblers right back into the game. If you thought that was an unlikely scorer, the equaliser came from the last person on the pitch who you would expect to score.
It was like waiting for a bus, as after 500 plus minutes without a goal, two came in 5 minutes, with Matt Grimes and Daniel Powell linking well on the left, and the ball found its way into the path of the un-rushing left back David Buchanan, who swept the ball into the far corner for his first ever Northampton goal on his 123rd appearance for the club. It was a special moment for him, even more so as it came in the week of his 500th career appearance and especially so after he entered the crowd to shake hands with a fan who confronted him after the defeat to Wimbledon.
Things could have got even better for the Cobblers, as John-Joe O’Toole sent the fans into dreamland when he won a penalty with 3 minutes to go. Despite Hasselbaink ordering Grimes to take it, O’Toole refused to give the ball over and took it himself, but unfortunately Lillis in the Rochdale goal was equal to the strike. A game which started so poorly for the Cobblers ended with them being unlucky not to take home the three points!
Northampton will be hoping to use this result to turn the season the around and kick start a good run of form, and to the start the goals flowing. To be ultra-critical though, the goal scoring problem isn’t over, as its unrealistic to expect Ash Taylor to score from every corner and David Buchanan has waited 123 games for his first goal, so the Cobblers need to look for more regular goal scorers, so there is still plenty of work to do for Hasselbaink, starting on Saturday 21st in a vital game away at Gillingham.