Cobblers still awaiting first win after Dons stalemate

FINGER-TIPS: Adam Smith tips over. Picture by Sharon Lucey
FINGER-TIPS: Adam Smith tips over. Picture by Sharon Lucey
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Rob Page is still waiting for his first league win as Cobblers manager after his side were held to their second successive goalless draw on Saturday when neither they nor AFC Wimbledon could be separated after a wind-affected contest at Sixfields.

With three draws from three going into Saturday, this clash represented a great chance for Northampton to bag their first league win of the season against a pointless Wimbledon side but it was not to be.

The howling, gale-force winds that swept across Sixfields all afternoon were far from conducive for free-flowing football and that was reflected in a scrappy, cagey first-half.

Northampton initially made the brighter start and they had the only real clear-cut chance of the opening 45 minutes but failed to take it before Wimbledon improved and wrestled control to go into half-time in the ascendancy.

That trend continued into the second-half but in truth, neither side possessed the necessary quality to break down the other on a quiet afternoon for the two goalkeepers.

Northampton now have four points from four games in Sky Bet League One with their unbeaten run standing at 28.

Rob Page kept to his word and again maintained his belief in consistency of selection by making just one change to the team that drew at Oldham Athletic on Tuesday with Marc Richards replacing Alfie Potter.

That also meant a change of shape to 4-4-2, matched by Dons boss Neal Ardley who also opted for two up front, and that made for an open start with Lyle Taylor and Kenji Gorre both lively.

The ever-dangerous Taylor headed over for Dons while John-Joe O’Toole did likewise at the other end but it was Gorre who had the first clear sight of goal in what proved to be the best opening of the first-half.

Alex Revell and Richards combined well to tee up the fleet-footed youngster who skipped past several Dons defenders to find space inside the area and drill a shot goalwards, but former Cobblers goalkeeper Ryan Clarke reacted well to pull off an excellent save.

A bright start then rather fizzled out as the game turned scrappy and the tough, blustery conditions took hold and made life difficult for both sides.

Wimbledon’s high press at times drew panic among the Northampton defence, who too often conceded sloppy possession and brought pressure on themselves, with Adam Smith having to quickly back-peddle to tip over Zander Diamond’s miscued clearance.

A succession of corners followed, all of which caused problems for Town, as the visitors held the edge going into half-time.

A switch of ends at the break did little to alter the pattern of the match as Dons, despite now shooting into the wind, continued to have the better of things.

Cobblers defended well to restrict the visitors to harmless long-range efforts while Northampton’s most likely source of a goal came from set-pieces with Matty Taylor’s in-swinging corner almost bringing the breakthrough.

Wimbledon’s clearest chance of the game came on 72 minutes when Tom Elliott, with his back to goal inside the penalty area, swivelled and fired in a shot that left Smith stranded but fortunately for the Cobblers goalkeeper, it flashed the other side of his left-hand post.

With the clock ticking down and the game still goalless, it was the visitors who looked more likely to snatch a late victory and they came agonisingly close to doing so when Paul Robinson’s header hit the crossbar, bounced down and was somehow scrambled off the line.

Taylor almost latched onto Revell’s cross at the other end but in truth, neither side deserved to take victory from another frustratingly uneventful goalless draw.

Cobblers: Smith, Phillips, Diamond, Zakuani, Buchanan, Hoskins (McCourt 83), O’Toole, Taylor, Gorre (Beautyman 61), Revell, Richards (Sonupe 72)

Subs not used: Cornell, Moloney, Nyatanga, Potter

Wimbledon: Clarke, Fuller, Robinson, Charles, Kelly, Bulman, Whelpdale, Barcham, Reeves, Taylor (Poleon 77), Elliott (Barnett 77)

Subs not used: Shea, Nightingale, Beere, Parrett, Fitzpatrick

Referee: Nicholas Kinseley

Attendance: 5,185

Dons fans: 424