Cobblers boss Chris Wilder had mixed emotions after seeing his side held to a 2-2 draw by Championship side MK Dons in a thrilling FA Cup third round tie at Sixfields.
Northampton recovered well from the early setback of Ryan Cresswell’s own goal and they deservedly got themselves on level terms moments after half-time thanks to a sublime Ricky Holmes strike.
Holmes added his second with another precise finish eight minutes later as the Cobblers flipped the tie on its head and looked on course for a fourth round berth for the first time in 12 years, only for Nicky Maynard to rescue the Dons when he diverted Ben Reeves’ shot into the net eight minutes from time.
Despite further Northampton pressure in the dying stages, Maynard’s goal meant a replay will be needed at stadiummk next week, though Cobblers’ name will be in Monday’s fourth round draw.
Wilder said afterwards: “We’re still in the competition so we’re happy about that but it’s mixed emotions really.
“The way my team played after the early setback was outstanding and we really pushed them. No matter how many changes they made they’ve still got quality players in their team.
“Sometimes when you make changes, you’ve got players that are desperate to get into a really good side so they might sometimes put that little extra bit in to get in their first team.
“I thought our general play was good, even first half, but we just wanted a little bit more belief because we were matching them.
“We’re not here to make the numbers up, we’re here on merit. They’ve got really good players that pass the ball well but we stepped onto them in the second half and played higher up the pitch and forced them into mistakes.
“We were really committed in terms of pressing and winning the ball back high up the pitch and it broke for us and we got ourselves two really good goals.
“I’m proud of the way we played and it was a great atmosphere again. We’re getting really good support from the stands and the players are playing well.
“We’re in a great position and we’re producing performances like today where we feel a little bit disappointed that we’ve not beaten a Championship side in the FA Cup.”
When leading 2-1, Northampton had their chances to score another and put the game to bed, however the third goal proved elusive, something which Wilder cited as key afterwards.
He added: “We desperately needed that third goal and if we had got it I think that’d have been enough.
“We’ve got a lot of quality at the top of the pitch and we chucked a lot of people forward, took a few gambles and if we had been a little bit better we possibly would have taken the game away from them.
“It’s mixed emotions because we’ve played well but the end result is that we’re looking to progress in the competition and get through to round four and we felt we did enough to do that today.”