Cobblers claim valuable away point after frustrating high-flying Doncaster

Solid defensive effort thwarts Rovers in stalemate at the Keepmoat

Saturday, 13th March 2021, 5:12 pm
Mickel Miller on the ball. Picture: Pete Norton

Cobblers picked up a valuable point on the road when they held promotion-chasing Doncaster Rovers to a goalless draw at the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday.

This was not a game that will live long in the memory but it will be considered a point gained rather than two dropped for Town and they were good value for it after a disciplined and hard-working away performance.

Cobblers would have been satisfied with their efforts in a largely low-key first-half having more than matched the home team, even if their attacking play never really clicked.

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It was more of the same in the second-half and although Doncaster's pressure gradually built in pursuit of a winner, Jonathan Mitchell was never really tested in the away goal and Cobblers preserved their clean sheet in relatively comfortable fashion.

It was an important point for Jon Brady's men too as it lifted them back out of the League One relegation zone on goal difference.

Brady resisted the urge to freshen things up after his side's defeat to Charlton in midweek and made only one change with the fit-again Joseph Mills returning as captain in place of Michael Harriman at left-back.

A scrappy first quarter was devoid of any meaningful action but belatedly the game warmed up and on 24 minutes came the first save when Mitchell's sharp reactions thwarted Cameron John at close quarters.

Both teams looked to be feeling the effects of the busy recent schedule in a laboured and sluggish first-half, although Northampton would have been pleased with their defensive efforts in limiting the hosts to very few chances.

And the away side improved in attack towards the end of the first-half with Shaun McWilliams' low piledriver flashing a fraction wide before the ball sat up nicely for Ryan Watson in the penalty area, but his shot deflected wide.

Town also saw three penalty appeals waved away in the opening 45 minutes, the first and last of those seemed long shots but Mickel Miller did look to be tripped by a Rovers defender in the build-up to Watson's chance.

However, the teams went into half-time all square and Doncaster tried to up the tempo in the second period with three long-range efforts in the first 12 minutes but two were comfortable for Mitchell and the other spooned well over.

Cobblers went close themselves when Miller's corner was hacked away off the goal-line, possibly blocked by his own team-mate in Watson, although there were claims the ball had crossed the line.

Danny Rose, Mark Marshall and Bryn Morris were all introduced by Brady and James Coppinger's free-kick crashed into the wall for Doncaster, but clear-cut chances remained at a premium as the clock ticked towards the final 10 minutes.

Rovers, looking to chase down a place in the top two, applied late pressure but again their final ball was found wanting and Town's defence was in no mood to give up a clean sheet.

Doncaster: Jones, Halliday, Anderson (c), Wright, James, Robertson (Richards 27), Smith (Gomes 71), Simoes, John (Coppinger 45), Lokilo, Okenabihrie

Subs not used: Balcombe, Amos, Greaves, Horton

Cobblers: Mitchell, Kioso, L Jones, Horsfall, Mills (c), McWilliams (Morris 57), Sowerby, Watson, Hoskins, Miller (Marshall 74), Edmondson (Rose 61)

Subs not used: Arnold, Harriman, Bolger, A Jones

Referee: Tom Nield