Grimsby Town manager Michael Jolley admitted his side were ‘fortunate’ to go into half-time on level terms with Northampton during Saturday’s League Two clash, but in the end he felt they were worthy of their ‘hard-earned’ point.
The Cobblers raced out of the blocks and were 1-0 in front with just four minutes gone thanks to an emphatic close-range finish from Andy Williams, the first of a series of chances for the home side who largely dominated the opening 45 minutes.
I think we were fortunate to go in one each at half-time. We got better as the first-half went on but there was no question they were the better team in that half.
But Town lost their way once Charles Vernam scored from Grimsby’s first real chance of the game shortly before half-time, and from then on it was a struggle for both teams to make much headway.
Kevin van Veen’s terrific free-kick late on appeared to have handed all three points to the Cobblers, only for Harry Cardwell to come off the bench and thump in an 80th minute leveller, forcing both sides to settle for a share of the spoils.
“It was a game that had everything and a real roller-coaster,” said Jolley, whose side had lost their last three away games. “They started like a house on fire and got their noses in front, which was really frustrating because we knew what they’d try to do but we didn’t deal with it.
“I think we were fortunate to go in one each at half-time. We got better as the first-half went on but there was no question they were the better team in that half.
“We made a small tactical switch and that enabled to get more possession of the ball but ultimately it was the players that started to get us more of a foothold in the game.
“We spoke at half-time about having the courage to make passes and play our football because we think with our players we can cause teams problems and that proved to be the case in the second-half.
“I thought we were much the better team in the second-half. We played our football and we created chances so it was frustrating to go 2-1 behind when it felt we were more likely to get the next goal.
“But credit to the players because they’ve come back and we’ve gone away with a very hard-earned point.”
Grimsby saw out the final few minutes with 10 men after captain Danny Collins was sent for an early bath as referee Trevor Kettle deemed him to be the last man when bringing down Kevin van Veen.
Jolley was not quite so sure though, adding: “I went up and shook the hands of all the Northampton players and the referee afterwards and about four of them said to me it was never a red card so that’s the first thing I’d say.
“The second thing I’d say is that it looked like Danny was going to get to the ball first and when I spoke to him, he felt that he had actually been fouled.
“Without seeing it again on the video replay, it’s difficult to say but it was certainly a contentious one, let’s put it that way. He was clearly the last defender but, if he’s been fouled, in that coming together it can appear that he’s brought his opponent down and I’m not sure that was the case.”
Jolley was also asked about Northampton’s first-half penalty appeal, replying: “It looked like an incident that could have gone either way. I don’t know if it was in the penalty box so it’s hard to say on that one.”