Northampton 1 Rotherham United 1: Match Report

Northampton Town FC v Rotherham United FC - Npower League 2 - 29th October 2011 - Conrad Logan redeems his earlier mistake as he tips Adebayo Akinfenwa's header onto the bar
Northampton Town FC v Rotherham United FC - Npower League 2 - 29th October 2011 - Conrad Logan redeems his earlier mistake as he tips Adebayo Akinfenwa's header onto the bar
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WHEN you go to the cobblers it’s to get some repairs. The Millers have been in need of a few lately and this was certainly a good opportunity for a fix.

Yes, they’d had the odd new sole recently. After all, there were holes in their shoes and, boy, were they letting in water.

When Gareth Evans scored the day’s fastest goal after just 70 seconds, they were certainly feeling well-heeled.

For Northampton, down on their uppers after four defeats on the bounce and, apparently, absolutely wretched four days earlier, this must have been like dropping a hobbing foot on the big toe.

However, they proved to have a spring in their step. Instead of it hammering their confidence which, we were told, was at rock-bottom, they showed (if anyone ever needed confirmation) that you can never quite fathom League Two. They produced a really spirited response to that setback.

By the time of their equaliser, courtesy of Conrad Logan’s boob, on 24 minutes, they had certainly been lively and dangerous.

At that stage, with Rotherham’s propensity for conceding goals and the home back line looking decidely iffy whenever the ball went anywhere near the final third, you would have bet a pair of brogues to a bag of flour that these two would be conceding again.

So, what happens? They don’t! The Millers manage a clean sheet (well, for the best part of 70 minutes) with a midfielder in centre defence whilst the Cobblers somehow cobbled one together (bar the first 70 seconds) having averaged two goals a game against in their last seven games.

They wouldn’t have done had Rotherham made something - as they should have done - of their second half work when they carried more threat and did a lot of attacking.

The Millers certainly had enough decent opportunity around the area to have restored their lead. But their final bit of work either didn’t have quality, composure or luck.

When they did get in some telling balls, the home side produced individual moments of excellent defending, notably John Johnson bravely denying Johnny Mullins six yards out and a splendid goalline clearance by Derek Niven, starting a loan spell from Chesterfield, after Danny Harrison had produced another of his Tim Cahill-style leaps from a corner.

Critics will point out that, against a side in the state they were in, this was a perfect opportunity to end the non-winning run (now at 10, the longest since 2006/07 when it went to 14 and the last away game in that sequence was at Northampton!).

They might also say that if they really are going to be a promotion force then they would have sorted this one out and indicated that things are about to be heading upwards.

Nothing is that straightforward, of course, based on one result but having scored so early, one did expect the Millers to go on and finish this one off.

The early goal for them was certainly a change. In six of the previous seven matches they have conceded early goals, in five of those games in the first 10 minutes.

When Alex Revell nodded down Danny Schofield’s set-up, Gareth Evans can rarely have run through a wider-open centre of defence.

But the home side didn’t sag. The return of the bulky Adebayo Akinfenwa seemed to boost the team and certainly helped one or two of the lively customers they had including on-loan WBA teenager Saido Berahino and midfielder Michael Jacobs.

On the right Lewis Young (brother of Ashley) was having a rare old tussle with Jon Harley and this, for me, was the highlight of the match. Harley, cagey, crafty, used all his experience to come out on top overall as the home side kept feeding Young who proved a quick, tricky customer.

He was involved in the 24th minute equaliser. Harley’s attempt to intercept near halfway actually touched the ball away from Mullins to Akinfenwa who sent Young up the right. His hard, low ball across saw Logan’s anticipatory move off his line ruined when it spun back off his gloves and over the line as the keeper made a despairing dive back to try and rectify his error.

In the next minute, Michael Raynes appeared to slip as he moved to make a challenge and fell clutching his knee and was stretchered off. He heard something ‘pop’ and whenever I have heard that description it seems to have been linked to a cruciate ligament injury. It was innocuous but certainly seemed serious - wretched luck for the lad.

Luke Foster went on in midfield to do a really effective job and give Andy Scott food for thought whilst Jason Taylor dropped into centre defence and handled it quite adequately.

A Harley 25 yard free-kick tipped over and Harrison’s header were the closest to a Millers goal amidst all their threat as Northampton scrambled their way to a point although Logan’s superb save from Akinfenwa’s header was the moment he’ll prefer to remember.

It was a third draw and, therefore, the base to start a run of a better kind. But the feeling nagged that, for whatever reason, this was an opportunity missed that they should have proved good enough to take.