Cobblers pegged back but still secure share of the spoils at Southend United
The Cobblers thew away a 2-0 half-time lead to draw 2-2 at Southend United on Saturday afternoon.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was hoping to make it three wins out of three as Town boss, and he was looking good to do just that as Town led to 2-0 at the interval thanks to goals from Leon Barnett and Matt Crooks, who scored for the third game in a row.
But Hasselbaink and Town had to settle for a share of the spoils as two goals in the space of a little more than a minute from Jason Demetriou and Anthony Wordsworth pegged the Cobblers back.
Southend pressed hard for a winner and had chances, but they failed to take them and the Cobblers escaped with a draw to make it seven points out of nine under their new manager, a haul that sees them 17th in the Sky Bet League One table.
On the down side, Crooks was then sent off for picking up a second yellow card deep into stoppage time, and will miss Tuesday's trip to Wigan Athletic.
The Cobblers made three changes to their starting line-up from Tuesday's 3-1 win over Portsmouth, with two of them enforced due to injury.
Yaser Kasim replaced Shaun McWilliams in the centre of midfield, while Daniel Powell came in for George Smith on the left of midfield, Smith missing out due to a slight groin strain.
The third change saw Leon Barnett replaced Aaron Pierre in the centre of defence, with the former Wycombe man dropping to the bench.
There was also a surprise selection among the substitutes, with Raheem Hanley getting the nod for the first time since he was transfer-listed by previous boss Justin Edinburgh in the summer.
The former Swansea City man failed to find a new club in the close season and was training with the Under-18s while Edinburgh was in charge, but has recalled to the first team fold under Hasselbaink and impressed the new manager enough to get in the match day 18.
There was very little incident in the opening exchanges, with the first chance of note falling to ex-Cobblers loan man Simon Cox on 13 minutes, but he badly miscued his volley from Jason Demetriou's right-wing cross.
It was the 18th minute before the Cobblers had a sight of goal, and it was a decent one, but Alex Revell headed Brendan Moloney's cross over the bar when he should have hit the target.
Town had grown in confidence, and they were ahead 60 seconds later.
Yaser Kasim's low right-wing corner picked out Barnett 10 yards out and his right foot shot lacked power, but somehow squeezed past Nile Ranger who was situated on the post.
Ranger immediately had the chance to make amends at the other end as he got the right side of Moloney in the penalty area, but his low right foot shot lacked any power and Matt Ingram saved easily.
Ingram had a much tougher save to make on 32 minutes though, reacting superbly to tip Cox's blistering 20-yard volley over the bar, the ball dropping to the former Republic of Ireland international from a clearing header.
The Cobblers were still having joy at the other end though, and after Southend goalkeeper Mark Oxley had denied Chris Long at the near post, he was beaten again on 43 minutes.
Powell was sent racing down the left by a Matt Grimes pass, and he did well to hold the ball up and tee up Crooks on the edge of the penalty area and the former Rangers man calmly passed the ball into the bottom corner from 20 yards.It was a classy finish.
Southend's players left the field to boos at half-time, and the Cobblers will have been expecting a reaction from them on the restart - and they got one!
Just as they did against Portsmouth on Tuesday, the Cobblers caused their own problems.
First, on 49 minutes, a poor touch from Crooks led to him fouling Cox on the edge of the Town penalty area.
The ball was laid off to Demetriou whose shot from 20 yards took a big deflection off Moloney and flew past a wrong-footed Ingram.
Just 60 seconds later, Southend were level, and all the Cobblers' good work of the first half was wiped out.
A simple ball over the top caused chaos, there was a weak defensive header from Barnett, Moloney slipped as he tried to clear the danger, and Wordsworth latched o n to the ball in the box, kept his cool and calmly tucked the ball into the bottom corner.
From being 2-0 up after 48 minutes, Town had been pegged back to 2-2 by the 50th, and it could have got worse, but thankfully for Town Stephen McLaughlin headed across goal and wide after being left unmarked at the far post.
The Cobblers did at least manage to regain their composure and stem the Southend tide, but the home side were happy to thump the ball down the middle to Ranger, and it was proving effective.
The home side piled on the pressure, but failed to create any further clear-cut chances, while the Cobblers did have their moments at the other end, without really threatening.
With the clock ticking down, Crooks received a second yellow for failing to retreat at a Southend free-kick and was dismissed.
That left the Cobblers facing a nervy 90 seconds or so a man light, but they managed it comfortably.
Southend: Oxley, Wordsworth (61m, McGlashan), Ferdinand, Timlin, Cox, McLaughlin (76m, Robinson), Yearwood (66m, Hendrie), Leonard, Demetriou, Kyprianou, Ranger. Substitutes not used: Smith, Fortune, Klass, Bwomono.
Cobblers: Ingram, Moloney, Taylor, Barnett, Buchanan, Crooks, Grimes. Kasim, Powell, Revell, Long (57m, Waters). Substitutes not used: Cornell, Richards, Bowditch, Pierre, Poole, Hanley.
Goals: 19 mins: 0-1, Barnett; 43 mins: 0-2 Crooks; 49 mins: 1-2, Demetriou; 50 mins; 2-2, Wordsworth
Referee: Nick Kinseley
Cobblers fans: 428