Cobblers held to draw by 10-man Notts County on helter-skelter afternoon at Meadow Lane
For the second week in a row Cobblers failed to take advantage of having an extra man as they were held to a 2-2 draw by relegation-threatened Notts County at Meadow Lane on Saturday.
Town trailed to Mitch Rose's sweet strike just shy of the half-hour mark but events either side of half-time looked to have put the visitors in command of the game.
Daniel Powell's simple finish levelled proceedings late in the first-half and then home goalkeeper Ryan Schofield saw red moments after the break before Sam Hoskins powered home from the subsequent free-kick, however like against Port Vale, Town failed to make their position of strength count.
Within seconds, Kane Hemmings pegged the visitors back and that was how it would finish despite Northampton creating enough chances to claim the points during an utterly dominant final half-hour.
This was undoubtedly an improvement on their dismal efforts against Vale but it will be viewed as two points dropped by Keith Curle, let alone the superb 934 fans in attendance at Meadow Lane.
It was an afternoon packed full of tension and anxiety, understandably so given County's perilous position at the bottom of the table, and home fans' nerves were not helped by card-happy referee Ben Toner, who dished out eight yellows and one red despite a largely good-natured contest.
Curle followed up last week's post-match outburst by making three changes to his team as strikers Marvin Sordell and Andy Williams both dropped to the bench, leaving Sam Hoskins to lead the line.
Timi Elsnik made his first start since mid-February while Daniel Powell and fit-again Jordan Turnbull also benefited from Curle's shake-up, and there was a place on the bench for Junior Morias.
The Cobblers were rarely troubled during a first 25 minutes that they largely controlled although it was a familiar problem - a lack of creativity in the final third - that proved their undoing.
With Town looking to feed off restless home supporters, Jack Bridge took up some dangerous positions in the number 10 position as several promising attacks broke down, but the visitors were then hit by the sucker-punch on 27 minutes.
County won possession back on halfway and after Ash Taylor blocked the initial shot, the ball rebounded out to Rose who arrowed a sweet half-volley into the bottom corner.
Cobblers continued to struggle to force home stopper Schofield into action but, just as it seemed they would head into half-time behind, Powell drew them level.
Bridge led the breakaway and found Powell on the left before the ball was worked back to the right where Hoskins' scuffed shot gave Powell the easiest of finishes at the far post.
Disaster struck for the Magpies in the first minute of the second-half when Powell rounded Schofield and was hauled down by the home 'keeper, giving referee Ben Toner no option but to bring out the red card.
And the hosts suffered an immediate second blow from the resulting free-kick as Hoskins, oping for power over placement,. saw his strike deflect off a defender and wrong-foot the only-just-introduced Ross Fitzsimons.
But, just like seven days ago, leading by a goal and playing with an extra man did not give Town the advantage it should have done and within two minutes of going back in front, they were pegged back by Hemmings' simple finish from Jon Stead's low cross.
In a carbon copy to last week, the Cobblers were now seeing virtually all of the ball and with Dean Bowditch and Williams now introduced, their challenge was to make it count unlike in the defeat to Port Vale.
The visitors were not without their chances to go back in front as Hoskins' instinctive first-time effort from Bowditch's short corner was straight at the goalkeeper before Town somehow failed to score on three separate occasions during a mass scramble in the penalty box.
A clever free-kick routine put Bowditch through on goal but his first effort was saved by Fitzsumons, his second was cleared off the line and then more desperate County defending also kept out Hoskins' follow-up attempt, before Charlie Goode slashed the final shot wide.
Williams flicked just beyond the far post but then Town's pressure fizzled out in the final 10 minutes, unable to sustain their dominance as County saw the game out for a precious point in their battle against the drop.
County: Schofield, Tootle, Duffy, Boldewijn (Fitzsimons 47), Hemmings (Mackail-Smith 87), Stubbs, Milsom, O'Brien, Rose, Stead (c) (Bird 70), Doyle
Subs not used: Barclay, Alessandra, Vaughan, Gomis
Cobblers: Cornell, Goode, Taylor, Pierre (c), Buchanan, Foley, Turnbull (Bowditch 57), Elsnik (Sordell 70), D Powell, Bridge (A Williams 57), Hoskins
Subs not used: Coddington, J Powell, O'Toole, Morias
Referee: Ben Toner
Cobblers fans: 934