Cobblers hit back to take a point but lose penalty shoot-out against Walsall in EFL Trophy

Northampton Town 1 Walsall 1 (2-4 on penalties)

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 9:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 9:08 pm
Michael Harriman, back in the team, goes haring after the ball during Tuesday's EFL Trophy match with Walsall. Picture: Pete Norton.

Cobblers remain in contention to qualify for the knockout stages of the Papa John's Trophy despite only managing a point from their second group stage match against Walsall at a soaking wet Sixfields on Tuesday.

Emmanuel Osadebe's fourth-minute opener separated the teams at half-time but Dylan Connolly struck from the spot in the second-half and that earned Town the draw which their play warranted.

In the shoot-out, Mitch Pinnock hit the bar with the first penalty and that rather set the tone as Etete also missed before Kieran Phillips scored the decisive spot-kick, sealing a 4-2 victory for the visitors.

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Town, who move up to three points in Southern Group D, can still reach the next stage of the competition should they beat Brighton U21s in their final group stage match.

Jon Brady rang the changes for this EFL Trophy game, making seven in all as Dominic Revan was handed his debut and Scott Pollock also returned to the starting line-up.

Jonny Maxted was back between the posts but he was beaten with just four minutes on the clock when Osadebe finished nicely after being slipped through by Brendan Kiernan.

Walsall were the livelier side and came close to a second as Jordan Flores lost possession on halfway and George Miller got through on goal, but he failed to beat Maxted.

Cobblers did improve with Ali Koiki and Nicke Kabamba seeing half chances comfortably saved by Jack Rose before Mitch Pinnock's free-kick sailed a yard or two over the crossbar.

But clear-cut chances were hard to come by and Maxted remained the busier goalkeeper, he was required again at the other end when saving with his legs from Tyrese Shade before holding Sam Perry's low drive.

Cobblers carved out their best opportunity of the night within four minutes of the restart when Dylan Connolly drove forward and laid the ball back for Pinnock whose cross was flicked straight at Rose by Etete.

The home side were kicking into the howling wind and teaming rain in the second-half and that hampered their attempts to build momentum.

But Shaun McWilliams, Max Dyche and Benny Ashley-Seal were then all introduced and the triple change did the trick when McWilliams slipped through Etete inside the box and he drew a foul. Connolly assumed responsibility and converted from 12 yards, sending Rose the wrong way.

Shade squandered a chance to immediately restore Walsall's lead, sliding wide of the far post, but Cobblers finished the stronger and had an equally good opportunity to win it, with Etete denied by Rose.

That miss meant penalties and it was Walsall who claimed the bonus point thanks to a flawless display of spot-kicks.

Cobblers: Maxted, Harriman, Horsfall (c) (Dyche 68), Revan, Koiki, Connolly, Flores, Pollock (McWilliams 68), Pinnock, Kabamba (Ashley-Seal 68), Etete

Subs not used: Roberts, Sowerby, Lewis, Rose

Walsall: Rose, Monthe (c), Kiernan, Bates (Earing 64), Leak, Perry (Labadie 76), Mills, Menayese, Shade, Osadebe, Miller (Phillips 60)

Subs not used: White, Ward, Sadler, Jackson

Referee: Charles Breakspear

Attendance: 1,285

Wallsal fans: 124