REPORTS FROM COBBLERS SITE
Report from http://www.ntfc.premiumtv.co.uk
The Cobblers couldn't end the season in style in their final match of the campaign after a second half comeback gave Mansfield the points with a 2-1 win at Field Mill.
There were two changes to the side that had valiantly fought back to earn a point with Plymouth last week. Former Stags loan man Glyn Thompson replaced Lee Harper between the sticks in familiar surroundings. Steve Morison, who had replaced the injured Derek Asamoah after only ten minutes of the Pilgrims game, started up front with Darryn Stamp. Greg Lincoln recovered from his ankle injury to come in on the substitutes bench. Ian Sampson returned to the scene of his Northampton Town debut some ten years previously for his 401st game for the club. Mansfield named goalkeeper Keith Welch on the bench after the former Cobblers custodian had found his way to Field Mill via a spell at Tranmere after being released from Sixfields at the end of last season.
A long clearance down field from Richard Hope set Stamp on his route after only 46 seconds of the game and the striker held off the challenge of the last defender before rolling the ball past Kevin Pilkington to give Northampton Town a remarkable early lead. A healthy travelling from Northampton were quick to burst into a chant of "We're not bottom anymore". After three minutes Paul Harsley hit over a dangerous cross which Stamp controlled on the edge of the area and headed the ball wide to Lawrie Dudfield, a clever turn from the Hull loan man took him past Jamie Clarke and his low drive flashed across the face of the goal and just wide of the far post. It was a dramatic start at Field Mill and Morison should have done better when a half cleared free kick found its way to him but he volleyed over the crossbar from ten yards out. The Cobblers were cutting through Mansfield at will, some good work from Morison and Dudfield on the right after nine minutes presented the chance for Harsley to run at the heart of the Stags defence, he went past one defender and then unleashed a shot that again went just wide.
In the fourteenth minute Thompson was called into action for the first time to make a good stop after a low shot from Liam Lawrence. Seven minutes later the home side had the ball in the net through right winger Lawrence but the whistle had already gone for a foul by Andy White on Hope. Junior Mendes then found himself the wrong side of Hope but he could only find the side netting when well placed as Mansfield began to come into the match. A long through ball from Lawrence found Mendes inbetween Hope and Sampson and he held the pair off to fire a shot in but he was denied by a good save from Thompson diving low to his right. It was almost third time lucky for Mendes just past the half hour mark, he lifted his left footed shot over Thompson but it struck the crossbar and bounced away as far as Wayne Cordon who put his follow up wide. Mansfield were enjoying their best spell of the game but they couldn't find a way past Thompson who was making the most of the opportunity in goal for the Cobblers. Ten minutes before half time right back Bobby Hassell found himself in an advanced position but Thompson was able to beat his shot away to safety.
The second period didn't get off to the same action packed start as the first although Morison forced Pilkington in a good save at one end and Thompson made a great double save to deny Mendes and then Lawrence at the other. Nine minutes into the second half Marco Gabbiadini replaced Stamp who had been forced to limp off after picking up a knock three minutes prior to the ball going out of play to allow the substitution to happen. Lanky front runner White pulled a shot across the face of the goal which needed a touch from Thompson to keep it out, at the other end good work from Dudfield on the edge of the area created space for himself to hammer a left footed shot at Pilkington but the goalkeeper made a good stop. The sides were swapping shots at their leisure and White flashed a drive wide after getting the better of Sampson.
Luke Chambers was introduced on the hour mark as a replacement for Dudfield. He slotted in at right back for his league debut with Chris Marsh initially moving onto the right wing. Before the youngster had a chance to touch the ball the Stags had pulled level, White rising highest in the box to head home from close range. It proved to be a harsh introduction to the world of professional football for scholar Chambers after he was adjudged to have pushed Mendes in the area quarter of an hour after coming on. Mansfield's player of the year Lawrence stepped up to send Thompson the wrong way from the spot.
With five minutes to go a clever back heel from Gabbiadini on the edge of the area slipped the ball to Hargreaves however his shot was turned over for a corner by the feet of Pilkington, it was a save that sealed the points for the Stags. Whilst the result wasn't what the good following from Northampton had wanted to see, they remained in good humour with a departing chant of "We'll see you all next year!". It is that determined support that will deserve to be rewarded when the new season begins in August as the Cobblers bid to bounce back at the first attempt.
Mansfield 2-1 Cobblers - final game
By Simon Sidwell
Richard Hill's after match quotes ended with "We need to improve". That thing is certain after the Cobblers an early lead slip at Mansfield to see them go down on the bottom, giving the Stags a 2-1 win. Darryn Stamp's early goal failed to spark Town into slipping down a division without a whimper.
Northampton almost rounded off the season by hauling themsevles off the bottom of Division Two as an early Darryn Stamp strike gave Cobblers hope. As ever though, Town's performance deteriorated to let Mansfield in let them gain a 2-1 win and end the Cobblers' life in Division Two on a bad note.
More to follow later......
Latest | May 2003