Chris Wilder was left fuming at the decision to award the free-kick which led to Leyton Orient’s last-gasp equaliser as the Cobblers boss admitted it was a “sickening blow” after his side were dramatically denied all three points in a pulsating finale at Sixfields this afternoon.
Having withstood a second half barrage from the visitors, Northampton looked to have snatched all three points when Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed home Nicky Adams’ corner three minutes into added time.
However, in the 97th minute, Orient won a controversial free-kick 30 yards from goal and Dean Cox placed a superb effort into the top corner to break Northampton hearts.
“It’s a sickening blow to take,” Wilder said afterwards. “It’s a ridiculous decision and everyone knew what the outcome would be.
“When you get undone by a really poor decision, it’s really hard to take for everybody. The Orient player just pushed Ryan Watson in the back, we should win the free-kick and then we stick it into the corner and the game’s done.
“Five minutes before we’d have walked away with a 0-0 and been absolutely delighted with the point, especially after the week we’ve had off the pitch.”
The Cobblers were indebted to goalkeeper Adam Smith who kept the game goalless with a string of superb saves to deny Ollie Palmer, Jay Simpson and Mathieu Baudry in a second half which was dominated by the visitors.
“Smithy was outstanding,” added Wilder. “We’ve not played great today and the opposition are a good, strong side in this division and I expect them to go well and get out of this league.
“Football is a strange game sometimes. I started laughing when we scored because that’s how football is – you get battered, the goalkeeper has been unbelievable and the character of the team helps you stick in there.
“It would have been a great point at 0-0 but when you get that close to the finishing line, it’s frustrating.
“We haven’t played as well as we have done in the last two games but sometimes you need to dig and keep the ball out of the net.”
The day started badly for Northampton with Ryan Cresswell, Paul Corry and Rod McDonald all missing the game after sustaining injuries during training.
Corry is likely to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury while McDonald faces four to six weeks out, and there was further bad news for Wilder during the match when David Buchanan was forced off having picked up a knock.
“I’ve never known a week like it. We haven’t played great today but we’ve lost three players on the training ground,” added Wilder.
“We stuck Zander (Diamond) in who’s not even trained and been out for quite a while. Then we lost Buchanan and (Shaun) Brisley’s running on empty.”