Battling Cobblers earn a deserved FA Cup replay as they play out goalless draw with Derby County
Cobblers earned themselves a well-deserved replay at Pride Park after holding Championship side Derby County to a goalless draw with a battling performance in the fourth-round of the FA Cup on Friday night.
Town did themselves proud in front of the BT Sport TV cameras and in front of a capacity crowd at the PTS Academy Stadium, restricting the Rams to very little in the way of clear chances while creating several of their own.
Cobblers were particularly terrific in the first 45 minutes, aggressive and committed and not giving Derby an inch as the Championship visitors, who included Wayne Rooney in their starting line-up, struggled to impose themselves.
The better chances fell to Town but in truth the game was not packed full of action with neither goalkeeper needed to make a proper save throughout the 90 minutes.
But the result can only be reflected on as a positive one for the Cobblers, who were the better team for much of the game and could easily have nicked a famous win.
The replay will be held at Pride Park in the week commending February 3.
Sam Hoskins and Andy Williams were recalled to the side by Keith Curle while Michael Harriman shifted to centre-back to fill in for the suspended Scott Wharton.
Derby made eight changes but Rooney and Brixworth boy Jack Marriott both started, though they were under early pressure as Cobblers came out all guns blazing in front of a buoyant home atmosphere.
The hosts were a fraction away from making a dream start when Nicky Adams' fourth-minute corner caused chaos in the penalty box and Jordan Turnbull's shot was blocked before Vadaine Oliver scrambled the ball onto the crossbar.
Charlie Goode produced a superb tackle on Marriott at the other end but Town were more than matching their esteemed visitors and another chance came Oliver's way on eight minutes, the striker steering his header just wide at the far post.
Cobblers were thanking their lucky stars a few moments later, however, when Goode appeared to drag Marriott to the ground as the striker bore down on goal, only for the officials to wave away Derby's furious protests.
Rooney was a subdued presence in the first-half, having one shot deflected over 15 minutes in, while Town's more direct approach continued to pose problems with Adams seeing an effort blocked and Williams firing into the side-netting
Goode, bar from that early incident, was a man mountain for the Cobblers in defence and he threw in another huge block just as Chris Martin looked set to break the deadlock.
After an enthralling first half-hour, the remaining 15 minutes of the first-half were mow low-key as Cobblers stood up well to Derby's patient approach play to keep themselves right in the contest at half-time.
Derby improved marginally in the second-half and had their best two chances within 12 minutes of the restart, both falling to Curtis Davies who headed over and then wide.
But Cobblers were not about to go away quietly and they responded through a couple of half chances of their own as Chris Lines volleyed over and substitute Matty Warburton curled wide.
Three quarters of the way through and there was still nothing to separate the teams in a riveting cup tie and that would remain the case.
As much as Derby tried to get something going, they were continually thwarted by Town's stubborn defending and with the hosts not able to carve out many attacking moments of their own, a replay always looked on the cards and so it proved come full-time.
Cobblers: Cornell, Goode (c), Harriman, Turnbull, Lines, Watson, Anderson (Pollock 75), Adams (Roberts 86), Hoskins, Williams (Warburton 60), Oliver
Subs not used: Arnold, Martin, Hall-Johnson, Johnston
Derby: Roos, Wisdom, Forsyth, Davies, Knight (Whittaker 82), Sibley (Bogle 75), Bird Malone, Rooney (c), Marriott (Waghorn 66), Martin
Subs not used: Hamer, Shinnie, Clarke, Holmes, Bogle
Referee: Darren England
Derby fans: 1,439