Cobblers denied victory by last-gasp Salford leveller
Salford City 2 Northampton Town 2
Ash Eastham scored a stoppage-time equaliser as Cobblers were pegged back to a last-gasp 2-2 draw at Salford City on Saturday.
Paul Lewis and then Mitch Pinnock scored their first goals for the club as Town twice led at Moor Lane, but Matthew Lund levelled once before Eastham scored four minutes into added-time.
Lund's superb finish cancelled out an early header by Paul Lewis, who grabbed his first goal for the Cobblers, as an entertaining first-half ended all square.
Salford had the better of the second-half but Town weathered the storm and appeared to have pinched all three points through Pinnock's close-range header 14 minutes from full-time.
But it was not to be as Eastham struck at the death, denying Cobblers what would have been an impressive away victory as they missed the chance to go second in League Two, instead dropping to fifth.
Jon Brady made two changes in personnel, recalling Dylan Connolly and Lewis for Mitch Pinnock and Kion Etete, and that in turn meant a change in shape to 4-3-3.
Salford nearly made the dream start when ex-Town man Jordan Turnbull knocked down a second-minute corner for Brandon Thomas-Asante, but Liam Roberts superbly kept out his close-range strike.
Cobblers responded impressively in an open and free-flowing start and a mix-up in Salford's defence presented a chance for Sam Hoskins, but home goalkeeper Tom King made a vital block on the edge of his own penalty area.
Despite that early scare, though, Northampton had started the game well and they got their reward on 16 minutes. Hoskins' long throw was flicked on at the near post by Fraser Horsfall and Lewis was in acres of space to nod home.
An excellent defensive block denied Danny Rose two minutes later, and Cobblers were pegged back midway through the first-half when Tom Elliott's cushioned header was brilliantly fired into the top corner by Lund.
Josh Morris nearly completed the turnaround but Ali Koiki's last-ditch defending proved crucial, while Thomas-Asante forcing another, albeit far more comfortable, save from Roberts.
Salford had turned the tide and ended the first-half on top, and that continued into the second-half with Lund heading off target before Cobblers somehow survived an almighty scramble with Hoskins and Aaron McGowan both hacking off the goal-line.
But the quality of the contest then dropped dramatically and despite changes by Brady, with Pinnock and Nicke Kabamba sent on, chances at both ends dried up.
However, then, almost from nowhere, Town restored their advantage. With 14 minutes to play, Hoskins laid the ball off to McGowan on the right and he delivered a fabulous cross for Pinnock to nod past King.
Cobblers did not have long to cling on but it was all hands on deck for what time remained, and with seven minutes of stoppage-time added, they could not hold out.
A deep cross from the left was finished off by Eastham at the back post, salvaging a point for the home side.
Salford: King, Shephard, Eastham (c), Turnbull, Ndaba, Lowe, Lund (N'Mai 87), Hunter, Morris (Wright 75), Elliott, Thomas-Asante (Oteh 75)
Subs not used: Jeacock, Love, Willock, Smith
Cobblers: Roberts, McGowan, Horsfall (c), Guthrie, Koiki, McWilliams (Pinnock 59), Lewis, Sowerby, Hoskins, Connolly (Kabamba 59), Rose (Etete 87)
Subs not used: Maxted, Harriman, Flores, Pollock
Referee: Anthony Backhouse
Cobblers fans: 677