Dramatic finish sees Cobblers denied as Arquin's stunner cancels out Williams' late opener

SUPER SUB! Andy Williams came off the bench to put Northampton in front at Yeovil Town on Saturday, but his fine finish was bettered by Yoann Arquinn's stunning equaliser just 90 seconds later. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds
SUPER SUB! Andy Williams came off the bench to put Northampton in front at Yeovil Town on Saturday, but his fine finish was bettered by Yoann Arquinn's stunning equaliser just 90 seconds later. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds

Cobblers missed a golden opportunity to close the gap on the play-offs when Yoann Arquin's stunning, last-gasp half volley cancelled Andy Williams' 88th minute opener in a dramatic finish at Huish Park on Saturday.

The breathtaking finale made up for 85 minutes of previously dour football as Williams came off the bench to hand Town a precious lead with just moments to go, only for Arquin to do likewise when rifling in off the crossbar from all of 35 yards.

Shay Facey sends the ball forward during Saturday's game. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds

Shay Facey sends the ball forward during Saturday's game. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds

The two goalkeepers were reduced to mere spectators for much of an insipid and mundane first 45 minutes that was sorely lacking in festive entertainment, with neither side able to create anything of note.

There was a marginal improvement in the second-half before things really came to life at the death, however the Cobblers will go away disappointed after seeing victory cruelly snatched away. The gap to the play-offs is back out to eight points.

With just one change to their team from last week's draw against Stevenage - Matt Crooks in for Daniel Powell - the Cobblers saw Kevin van Veen fire wide from a tight angle and Ash Taylor have a looping header tipped over by Stuart Nelson during the opening 15 minutes.

But a bland and desperately low-quality first-half otherwise had very few, if any, redeeming features as the two teams struggled to impose themselves, both plagued by an ability to string together more than a handful of passes without giving the ball away.

Kevin van Veen

Kevin van Veen

A spate of half chances did arrive around the half-hour mark but neither goalkeeper came under scrutiny with Sam Foley blazing off target from 25 yards and then Rhys Browne having a shot deflected just wide for the home side.

Keith Curle would have hoped to ruffle some feathers at halftime and jolt his side into life, but instead it was Yeovil who upped their performance levels as the game belatedly burst into life just shy of the hour-mark.

A flurry of action saw Francois Zoko have what looked a stonewall penalty claim turned down before the Cobblers broke and van Veen's effort was deflected narrowly wide of the far post.

From the following corner, the home side squandered a terrific opportunity to hit Town on the break when they had two-on-one, only for Jordan Green to take too long and allow David Cornell to come off his line and gather.

Shaun McWilliams wins a header

Shaun McWilliams wins a header

But the excitement didn't last for long and the game soon reverted to its disappointing self despite the influx of substitutes, Billy Waters and Andy Williams sent on by Keith Curle in place of Foley and Crooks.

Cobblers had a couple of half chances to nudge themselves in front with 10 minutes to go but David Buchanan was off the mark with his volley and then Shaun McWilliams couldn't find the power to trouble Nelson from van Veen's cross.

But they didn't have to wait long to score what many felt at the time was the winning goal. With just three minutes remaining, McWilliams released Williams through on goal with an exquisite through pass and the striker kept his composure to slide a cool finish into the far corner.

That sent the away end into raptures, but their celebrations were immediately doused by Arquin's brilliance, the Yeovil man coming off the bench to lash home a magnificent 35-yard half volley in off the crossbar.

That, plus six minutes of added-time, spurred the hosts forward and Town had to survive a couple of scares in the final moments, but survive they did, though it will still feel like two points dropped given they held the lead with just two minutes to go.

Yeovil: Nelson, Gafaiti, Dickinson, Warren (c), Browne (Arquin 80), Fisher, Green, D'Almeida, James, D'Abdadia, Zoko (Olomola 79)

Subs not used: Patrick, Gray, Baxter, Arnold, Donnellan

Cobblers: Cornell, Taylor, Turnbull, Pierre, Facey, Buchanan (c), Foley (Waters 73), McWilliams, Crooks (Williams 67), Bowditch, van Veen (Morias 88)

Subs not used: Coddington, Bridge, Hoskins, Hoskins

Referee: Robert Lewis

Attendance: 3,193

Cobblers fans: 276