Cobblers goal drought is over as Taylor and Buchanan secure comeback draw at Rochdale
Two goals from two defenders, including a first ever club strike for David Buchanan, saw the Cobblers come from 2-0 down and nick a thrilling 2-2 draw at Rochdale after a dramatic, breathtaking second-half that just about had it all at Spotland on Tuesday.
The point will undoubtedly go down as a good one given Town’s poor form and the fact they were 2-0 down after 70 minutes, but it could have been so much more after what unfolded in a spectacular finale.
Taylor headed one goal back and then Buchanan swept home an equaliser before Northampton won a last-minute penalty, only for John-Joe O’Toole to be denied from the spot by goalkeeper Josh Lillis.
It was a crazy end to what had been a enthralling end, and while the Cobblers deserve credit for showing tremendous character to fight back and get an unlikely point, they will rue two dropped as they remain in second from bottom and in need of victories to climb the table.
Earlier, two goals, one in each half, from former Northampton man Ian Henderson did the damage for Rochdale who looked in total control when leading 2-0 before being stung by a dramatic finish.
The result gives Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink something to build on as his side also finally, at long, long last, ended their painful drought in front at goal which had stood at more than 650 minutes at the moment of Taylor’s goal.
Hasselbaink once again tinkered with his team selection for the trip to Greater Manchester, this time making three changes with Chris Long the headline returnee as he came straight back in following four weeks out with hamstring injury.
Sam Hoskins dropped to the bench while Regan Poole and Sam Foley started in midfield, replacing Lewis McGugan and Shaun McWilliams, as the Cobblers lined up 4-3-3.
Dale made a slick start and were almost ahead inside five minutes when Matt Done’s header from Ian Henderson’s cross landed on the roof of Matt Ingram’s net.
That was the only serious goal threat that either side posed in a cagey and relatively even first quarter, but the first-half then swung on a flurry of activity at the midpoint.
First, the Cobblers were a whisker away from ending their goal drought when Foley started and ended a swift break as his header from Billy Waters’ cross was pushed behind by Josh Lillis for a corner.
And from that corner, Dale took the lead. Matt Grimes’ delivery came out to Foley who went to ground looking for a foul but with the referee’s whistle not coming, Rochdale were able to break and catch Town short at the back as Callum Camps set away Henderson with a sublime crossfield ball and the former Cobbler made no mistake, firing clinically into the bottom corner.
That set the tone for a rampant period for the home side with Northampton indebted to Ingram to keep them in the game.
He twice denied Bradden Inman, initially rushing out to block when the Dale man was through before subsequently beating away his ferocious long-range hit.
Town regained their composure and got a foothold again in the minutes prior to half-time, albeit without posing much danger on Lillis’ goal.
The Cobblers started the second-half on top and they had a glaring chance to level when Grimes’ corner fell to Pierre yards from goal, but his well-struck volley was scrambled off the line.
Grimes went close from a free-kick on the hour-mark, lifting up and over the wall but just wide from 20 yards, but just as Town were building up a head of steam, they were hit by the sucker-punch.
Inman raced down the left flank and whipped in a low cross for the onrushing Done, who was eased to ground by Buchanan.
It looked a soft decision but referee Darren Drysdale had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and though Ingram kept out Henderson’s first effort, the midfielder tucked away the rebound.
Pierre’s vital touch from Inman’s cross-shot prevented a certain third before Camps shot into the side-netting as it looked to have become a damage limitation exercise for the visitors.
But, finally, after 650 long minutes, Northampton put the ball in the net and got themselves right back in the game.
It came from a set-piece as Taylor headed in Grimes’ corner to hand the Cobblers an unlikely lifeline.
The introduction of O’Toole further gave hope of a comeback, and with 11 minutes remaining, remarkably, they were back on level terms with another goal from a defender, and an even unlikelier source.
A move down the left ended with the ball falling back to Buchanan who, of all people, swept home an excellent finish, via the inside of the far post.
And incredibly, Northampton so nearly took the lead moments later when O’Toole swung in a cross from the right and found an unmarked Long, who headed straight at Lillis.
Long then made way for Hoskins as both sides sensed a winning goal, which again was almost scored by the visitors with this time Waters fizzing over from 20 yards having worked space for the shot.
The drama certainly wasn’t finished there as the Cobblers were then given a wonderful opportunity to claim the most dramatic of victories three minutes from time.
O’Toole burst into the box and was dragged to the floor, resulting in a penalty.
The same man picked himself up to take and surely win the game, but his weak penalty was too close to Lills, who guessed the right way and got a strong hand to save and beat the ball away from immediate date.
That sprung Dale into action whilst taking the wind out of Town’s sails, and it was then the home side’s turn to nearly nick it as Camps’ free-kick deflected over in the first of four added minutes before substitute Jordan Slew shot a fraction wide.
The remaining three minutes of stoppage-time passed with relative calm and the Cobblers could celebrate a hard-earned and much-needed point at full-time, albeit one tinged with regret.
Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty, McNulty, McGahey, Andrew (Slew 90), Camps, Williams, Done (Davies 76), Inman, Bunney, Henderson
Subs not used: Moore, Ntlhe, Williams, Rathbone, Daniels
Cobblers: Ingram, Moloney, Taylor, Pierre, Buchanan (c), Poole, Grimes, Foley (O’Toole 72), Waters, Powell, Long (Hoskins 81)
Subs not used: Cornell, Smith, McWilliams, Kasim, Bowditch
Referee: Darren Drysdale