After dominating the bulk of the first half without posing a serious threat to the Northampton goal, the Bulls conceded early in the second half and then had to rely on a Waide Fairhurst header to salvage a point. With Michael Townsend returning to the side after his ban, it was the turn of Janos Kovacs to sit out the action whilst serving his own one game suspension. The home side was otherwise unaltered.
Stuart Fleetwood, rather out of sorts on Saturday, started in lively fashion with a forceful run and cut back that almost found Joe Colbeck. Harry Pell then showed vision and determination in spotting another Colbeck run, and Chris Dunn had to be smart in blocking the effort. At the other end, an Andy Holt header flashed past Adam Bartlett’s post. Fleetwood was then caught in two minds as to whether a snap shot or a pass was the better option, and the chance went begging.
A promising run by Fleetwood was checked unfairly, and referee Mr Hill showed his experience in delaying his decision to see if any advantage was forthcoming before awarding the free kick. Joe Heath fired goalwards, Dunn spilled the ball, and Pell met the rebound before Fleetwood bundled it home, but celebrations were cut short by an offside flag. Colbeck and Fleetwood again combined well, but the final assault on goal was lacking.
The Newent lad then exchanged quickfire passes with strike partner Fairhurst which opened up the route to goal, but his yellow boots were having trouble in identifying the target. Nathaniel Wedderburn sprayed some useful passes about in the Cobblers midfield, and the combative Holt posed some problems, though the defence looked solid. Michael Jacobs embarked upon a promising run, but lost control at the vital moment. In the last meaningful action of the half, a Harry Pell free kick was deflected for a corner by the defensive wall.
HT: HUFC 0 NORTHAMPTON TOWN 0
Fairhurst buzzed about purposefully, as the Bulls tried to press home their advantage. However, with the second half under three minutes old, it was the visitors who gained an unlikely lead. A missed header in midfield saw Jacobs scuttle down the wing and win a corner. Kevin “Choc” Thornton’s delivery to the near post was met by a largely unattended Holt who nodded home. Shortly after the restart, Bulls fans held their collective breath as Richard Rose tangled with Billy McKay- just as it seemed likely to lead to another close range chance, Rose made a last-ditch saving tackle, and a half- hearted shout for a penalty was waved away.
Fairhurst robbed ex-Bull Dean Beckwith and sent Colbeck down the wing, but inaccuracy of delivery was evident here, as on other occasions. A smart move involving Pell and the increasingly influential Kenny Lunt at least ended with an attempt on goal, though Fleetwood’s long range shot lacked power. With 67 minutes played, Hereford then grabbed a deserved equaliser. Ryan Green, playing a solid defensive role for the first period, was now starting to push forward, and he delivered a peach of a cross onto Fairhurst’s head, and the Donny loanee gratefully tucked the ball home. The goal celebration left Edgar the Bull, who unwisely attempted to join in, with an unspecified injury.
The home side then attempted to gain a much needed Edgar Street victory, but a number of misplaced crosses and off target shots marred some quite inventive approach play. Northampton posed less of a danger, although they did force a succession of corners, from the last of which the ball was cleared desperately from the line. Rob Purdie, not enjoying one of his more productive days, gave it away easily, but chased back to retrieve possesion, and then a jinking run from Liam Davis ended with the ball whistling across the six yard box.
It was the home side who still enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but a Townsend shot went wide, a tricky Jimmy McQuilkin run ended with a tame effort, and Fairhurst delayed too long in measuring the perfect angle and the chance had gone. One last chance came with the award of a free kick just outside the area; little Jimmy’s poor shot rather epitomised the night’s proceedings.
FT: HUFC 1 NORTHAMPTON TOWN 1
Attendance: 2125, including 151 from the home of the Doc Marten.
HUFC: Bartlett, Green, Rose, Townsend, Heath, Colbeck, Pell, Lunt, Purdie (McQuilkin 80), Fairhurst, Fleetwood.
Northampton T.: Dunn, Rogers, Hall, Beckwith, Johnson, Holt, Wedderburn, Jacobs, Davis, Walker (Thornton 39), McKay.