A second half Jamie Reid stunner earns Stevenage a point on the road at Sixfields…
Steve Evans made three changes to his starting eleven from last weekend, including three players who were welcome returns from injury.
Terence Vancooten made his first start since Stoke City in January, while Dean Campbell was on the pitch from the off for the first time in three and a half months. Luther James-Wildin also came into the eleven in place of the injured Kane Smith.
With plenty on the line this afternoon but knowing nothing would be won or lost in totality, the atmosphere at Sixfields was buoyed by the thousand travelling Boro fans behind the goal.
However, it wasn’t to be the start the away side were hoping for. Within six minutes, Northampton’s Louis Appéré fired the hosts into the lead after the ball fell to the Scottish forward inside the Boro area after a long throw. A difficult task made tougher but with plenty football still to be played.
Jon McCracken and Dean Campbell both picked up yellow cards for late challenges in the Boro half before the twenty-minute mark, yet Stevenage would need to stay positive and determined to get anything from this game.
Appéré went close again this time with a header from dix yards out, falling wide of the far post a quarter of the way through the game.
Dan Sweeney had Boro’s best chance of the first half, glancing his header wide from Max Clark’s corner with five minutes to play.
Dean Campbell’s long-distance effort on the stroke of half-time did nothing to test Cobblers’ Burge in goal, as Boro went in behind at the break.
Acknowledging that a change was needed, Steve Evans made two at half-time. Danny Rose and Jake Forster-Caskey were introduced for Jake Reeves and Dean Campbell, as Stevenage looked for a more positive second period with the aim of taking something from Sixfields.
After Ryan Haynes’ effort struck the side netting five minutes into the restart, it would be all Stevenage for at least the next half an hour.
The change in formation and personnel allowed more freedom going forward, and it almost paid dividends on the hour mark as Max Clark’s volley was fingertipped over the crossbar by Northampton’s Lee Burge.
The Boro’s faithful were behind their team and backing the team to get that all-important next goal.
Five minutes later, Luke Norris tested the gloves of Burge with a glancing header at the near post, before Dan Sweeney got too much on his volley inside the area and fired over.
The chances kept coming as newly introduced Danny Rose almost scored against his former Club, with his header crashing against the crossbar just three quarters of the way through the game.
With twenty minutes to play, Jamie Reid and Michael Bostwick were introduced for Terence Vancooten and Luke Norris.
And what an inspired change it turned out to be. A minute since stepping over the white line, Jamie Reid would bring Stevenage level in the tie. Picking the ball up midway in the Northampton half, Reid showed tremendous skill to beat his man and continue driving at goal, unleashing an effort thirty yards from goal. For what seemed eternity, his effort crashed against the left post, trickled along the goal line, eventually rolling behind the line and into the net. A fantastic piece of skill and pinpoint finish, with a good amount of time for either side to find a winner.
As expected, Stevenage’s pressure on goal would relax after finding their leveller, but Northampton weren’t going to up the ante either. Temperatures rose with five minutes to play after a late challenge from Odimayo on Alex Gilbey, with the Northampton player picking up a yellow after tempers flared.
Max Clark tested the gloves of Burge once more as the game headed into four minutes of additional time.
Carl Piergianni took a nasty knock to the head in injury time, as the game eventually finished almost a hundred minutes in, but the two teams were forced to settle for a share of the points.
Steve Evans will feel his team should have won it, but nonetheless another point added to the board with eight games to play.
Attention turns to Colchester United at The Lamex Stadium on Good Friday, with match tickets available now at borotickets.co.uk.
Attendance: 7,759 inc. 956 away.