Following this hard-fought draw at Accrington Stanley, the Cobblers have now racked up seven points from their opening five games of the season, a somewhat underwhelming total especially after such a promising start.
Two wins were followed by two defeats and Saturday’s result was Northampton’s first draw of the campaign, and it was probably a fair reflection of an entertaining and lively encounter.
The Cobblers were second best for much of the first half and were fortunate not to be two or three behind by the time Marc Richards had given them a half-time lead with a brilliant improvised finish from an acute angle.
However, Northampton were unable to capitalise on their advantage in the second half as Lawson D’Ath brought down Josh Windass, son of Dean, for a soft penalty which the Accrington midfielder clinically converted.
Many would then have expected Stanley to push on and get the winner given their superiority up to that point, but instead it was Northampton who upped their game, aided by several positive substitutions, and looked the likelier to take all three points.
It wasn’t to be, though, as Accrington keeper Jason Mooney pulled off a number of fine saves from Richards, Nicky Adams and Sam Hoskins, to preserve a point for his side.
Arguably the biggest positive to come out of the game for Northampton was the performance of Rod McDonald. The 23-year-old centre-back, who signed for the Cobblers last month having previously played for Nantwich Town, Hereford United and AFC Telford United, looked shaky and overawed in his brief Northampton career prior to Saturday.
Against Accrington, though, McDonald was much more assured. He read the game well and made several vital interceptions, he used his pace – a valuable asset for any centre-back – to good effect and also looked relatively comfortable on the ball, aside from a couple of panicky clearances.
It is, of course, too quick to make a complete judgement but the signs from Saturday suggest McDonald can provide adequate centre-back cover for Zander Diamond and Ryan Cresswell moving forward.
Though many will see the result as two points dropped rather than one gained, the draw does at least stop the rot for Northampton, who came into the game on the back of three straight defeats, as they now turn their attention to Tuesday evening when Colchester United are in town for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
How they rated...
Adam Smith - Made several comfortable saves from long-range efforts but could do nothing about the penalty. Also set up Northampton’s goal with a long kick forward... 7
Adam Yates - Most of Accrington’s threat came down the other side so didn’t have too much to do but dealt with what danger there was... 6.5
Rod McDonald - His best game in a Northampton shirt. Read the game well and made a couple of crucial interventions to top Stanley from getting through on goal. He’s also quicker than both Cresswell and Diamond which was evident on Saturday and will be an asset moving forward... 7.5 CHRON STAR MAN
Ryan Cresswell - Strong in the air and could have scored late on but for Mooney... 6.5
David Buchanan - Had his hands full with the tricky Piero Mingoia. Struggled to cope with the threat early on but improved as the game wore on... 6
Joel Byrom - Got caught out of position once or twice and left the defence exposed, particularly on the break. Decent on the ball though... 6
Jason Taylor - Broke the play up effectively but, like Byrom, didn’t offer the defence enough protection with Stanley often finding plenty of space… 6
Alfie Potter - Worked hard but didn’t have much of an impact in the final third... 6
Nicky Adams - Saw a lot of the ball but didn’t quite happen for him. Twice came close late on but was thwarted by the excellent Mooney... 6.5
Lawson D’Ath - Gave away the penalty with a needless, albeit soft, foul and otherwise had little impact before being taken off… 5.5
Marc Richards - Frustrated by the lack of service in the first half but took his goal brilliantly. Could have had a second but for a decent save from Mooney... 7
Sam Hoskins - Breathed new life into the Cobblers when he came on. Could have bagged a late winner if not for the defiant home keeper... 7
Chris Hackett - 6
Ryan Watson - 6