It wasn’t a defeat, and it at least stopped the rot, but this was hardly the rip-roaring performance and resounding victory that many craved following Saturday’s events against Peterborough.
With Justin Edinburgh abandoning 3-5-2 and reverting to 4-4-2, Northampton produced a decent first-half display followed by a ragged second as they were held 1-1 by League Two Cambridge United in the Checkatrade Trophy.
The Cobblers did at least create chances as Daniel Powell and Billy Waters utilised their pace and directness to good effect, though their tendency to cut inside meant Town’s play became too narrow on occasion.
Shaun McWilliams’ energy and Matt Grimes’ quality were also features of the evening while Alex Revell’s thumping strike was just what the doctor ordered after Piero Mingoia’s precise finish had everyone fearing yet another defeat.
In truth, and as expected given the stature of the competition and the form of these two teams, there was little to shout about throughout the game, particularly in a quite frankly dreadful second-half that followed what had been a mildly entertaining first 45 minutes.
The penalty shoot-out was of an impressively high quality at least, and those in Cobblers colours shone most. Youngsters McWilliams, who enjoyed another decent outing, and Joe Iaciofano both emphatically dispatched their spot-kicks while Waters and Revell also had little trouble before Ash Taylor rolled home the winner.
That claimed an extra point – hurrah – and at least gave Sixfields some sorely-needed cheer. It does not, however, paper over the cracks.
With no game this weekend, the Cobblers have 10 days to get their act together before Doncaster come to town.
How they rated...
Luke Coddington - Routine early stop from Ibehre but Mingoia’s crisp strike left him grasping at thin air. Got his hand to two of the first three spot-kicks before finally saving the crucial fourth... 7
Brendan Moloney - Wasn’t able to bomb on as much as he usually tends to having been moved from wing-back to full-back, and survived a nasty second-half fall... 6
Leon Barnett - Cleared the stand with an ambitious 25-yard volley, but it’s at the other end where he’s more at home. Relatively comfortable night, bar the odd scare... 6
Ash Taylor - Scored the winning pen, and won countless aerial duels during the game itself. Odd mix-up with Barnett as they went from a three-man central defence to a two-man... 6
David Buchanan - Terrific last-ditch tackle denied Azeez a late winner as he returned to the more familiar surroundings of full-back... 7
Billy Waters - Pushed out to the right where he caused problems for Cambridge, particularly when cutting inside. First goal remains elusive but he’s getting closer... 6
Shaun McWilliams - Produced the best penalty of the lot, smashing into the top corner, and showed a real eye for a pass in another promising outing... 7
Matt Grimes - Busy figure in midfield, getting around the pitch and always seeking out possession. Displayed a good range of passing and whipped in a couple of dangerous set-pieces... 7
Daniel Powell - At the heart of most of Town’s first-half chances, with his trickery and directness from the left-wing a feature of the evening. Faded out after half-time... 6
Chris Long - Worked hard up top without having much to show for it.... 6
Alex Revell - Having seen his improvised flick well saved by Mitov, he was not to be denied a second time, thundering in Town’s equaliser. Also converted his penalty well... 7 CHRON STAR MAN
Joe Iaciafano - 6