It’s an unhappy new year for Cobblers as Forest Green grab last-gasp winner

Jay Williams makes a challenge during the Cobblers' 2-1 defeat at Forest Green Rovers (Pictures: Pete Norton)
Jay Williams makes a challenge during the Cobblers' 2-1 defeat at Forest Green Rovers (Pictures: Pete Norton)

Cobblers suffered last-gasp agony of their own on New Year’s Day when they were beaten by a 94th minute winner against Forest Green Rovers at The New Lawn.

Three days after snatching a last-gasp draw against MK Dons - and having beaten Rovers with a late winner in the reverse fixture - Northampton were on the receiving end when Theo Archibald fired home in the final minute of added time.

Sam Foley celebrates his goal for the Cobblers

Sam Foley celebrates his goal for the Cobblers

The result was harsh on the Cobblers, who would have been good value for a point having recovered from a nightmare start to hold their own against the play-off chasing hosts, but in the end it goes down as yet another missed opportunity.

Town’s hopes of returning from the Cotswolds with a positive result were dented a significant blow with just 61 seconds on the clock when George Williams’ tap-in made it a dreadful start to 2019 for Keith Curle’s men.

The visitors didn’t buckle though and deserved their leveller when Sam Foley headed in just after half-time, but it was to be disappointment once again thanks to Archibald’s late, late strike.

Curle rung the changes for Town’s fourth game in 11 days, handing a full league debut to teenager Jay Williams in one of five alterations as David Buchanan, Sam Hoskins, Sam Foley and Junior Morias also all returned to the side.

Aaron Pierre and Shaun McWilliams were among those to miss out as they didn’t even make the matchday squad while striker and top scorer Kevin van Veen was only on the bench.

And Curle’s decision to name a much-changed team backfired within 61 seconds when Rovers stormed into an early lead.

The visitors had barely even touched the ball by the time an unmarked Williams tapped in Reece Brown’s flashing cross.

Hoskins had a header saved by James Montgomery and Foley volleyed over in response for the Cobblers, but Forest Green were a menacing force in attack as Jordan Turnbull, back in defence for this game, cut out Liam Shephard’s teasing cross and Shay Facey headed away from the troublesome Brown.

More goals felt inevitable given the vulnerability of both defences but chances became increasingly sparse as the first-half wore on, although Williams was inches from his and Green’s second when he accepted the invitation to shoot from 20 yards, curling marginally wide.

Town were struggling to function as a cohesive attacking unit and their next opportunity didn’t come until the early moments of the second-half when Matt Crooks shot straight at Montgomery and then Morias scuffed his attempt from the edge of the box.

But the visitors had made a flying start to the second period and they were right back in the game four minutes after the restart courtesy of Foley, who got up brilliantly to head Turnbull’s cross into the bottom corner.

That goal opened the game up further and Andy Williams lifted just over before Crooks twice went close, his free-kicks palmed away by Montgomery and then heading over when trying to re-direct Buchanan’s shot.

Town had done a fine job of reversing the momentum but three substitutions by Mark Cooper suddenly put Rovers back on top with a succession of chances coming their way with 15 minutes to go

Cornell produced two excellent stops, springing to his right to keep out Paul Digby’s header before reacting quickly to thwart Williams after Rovers sliced Town open with a slick move.

Dayle Grubb then toe-poked against the post and Cornell was alert to smother away the loose ball.

Cobblers themselves had a chance to take the lead through Hoskins with five minutes remaining, but he couldn’t get enough on his shot after good work from Crooks and Dean Bowditch.

Van Veen was also off target with a less presentable opportunity before play swung back up the other end where Gavin Gunning was close to winning it for Rovers, nodding a fraction wide of the far post.

Win it they did though, Archibad shooting through the fingers of Cornell deep into added-time, to the delight of home supporters and the misery of the strong contingent of travelling fans

Match facts

Rovers: Montgomery, McGinley (Grubb 62), Gunning, Rawson, James (c) (Digby 62), Winchester, Brown, Shephard, Mills, Williams, Campbell (Archibald 68) Subs not used: Thomas, Collins, Morris, Reid

Cobblers: Cornell, Facey, Taylor, J Williams, Hoskins, Buchanan (c), Turnbull, Foley, Crooks (Bridge 90), A Williams (Bowditch 75), Morias (van Veen 61) Subs not used: Coddington, Odoffin, Powell, Waters

Referee: Kevin Johnson

Attendance: 2,909

Cobblers fans: 593