AIDY BOOTHROYD believes the point his Cobblers side took in this game is a mark of their recent progress and a sign that things will improve in 2012.
Took started the new year with a very good point at a Shrewsbury side who are fighting for promotion from npower League Two.
And Boothroyd, who gave debuts to three new signings in the Greenhous Stadium clash – midfielder Ben Harding, striker Akwasi Asante and left-back Blair Adams – was delighted to come away with a point that lifts his side off the bottom of the Football League.
“It’s nice to come up here and get what we deserved,” he said. “Fair play to Shrewsbury, they are an excellent team, they can play through the thirds of the pitch and they can go long as well.
“We’re only the third team to come here and come away with something and that says a lot about how we played.
“We were the better side in the first half, we created a lot of chances and the game plan worked a treat and but for a bit of better finishing we could have been two or three up.
“In the second half they were the better side and it was backs against the wall at times but in any league at some point in the game you have to defend for your lives.”
Town remain in the bottom two in their division but the signs are good and they are definitely improving, even if they were hanging on in the final stages of this game.
Two or three months ago the home side would have been out of sight by half-time (or earlier) but the bad old days of early collapses look like being over.
“From my point of view, I look at the league table and the results and it doesn’t look too clever at the moment,” added Boothroyd.
“But when you go beyond that and dig beyond that, and start talking about the performances and the energy we’re playing with, you see this mob are giving their all.
“If you give your all, work hard and score goals then you will win football matches.”
The Cobblers had a big shout for a penalty turned down just 30 seconds into the game when Saido Berahino’s sidefooted effort from Lewis Young’s cross appeared to brush a defender’s arm in the box, but nothing was given.
Ben Harding flighted in a free-kick that was cleared to Young, the ball hitting Ian Sharps and bouncing against the left-hand post as the visitors started on the front foot.
Shrewsbury threatened too. Ben Tozer did well to recover position and tackle Marvin Morgan when it looked like the striker would go through one-on-one.
Young was getting a lot of joy against Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, a centre-half playing at left-back, and cut inside twice to produce shots in the first 20 minutes.
So it was no surprise when Young burst clear down the inside-right channel, fed Akwasi Asante who rounded the keeper and rolled the ball goalwards for Berahino to stab in from three yards.
At that stage the game was wide open and Matt Richards drew the home side level when a dangerous-looking cross was headed to the midfielder 20 yards out, who took a touch a drilled into the corner.
The second half was not as frantic as the first but the game was still wide open at times, like when Michael Jacobs beat three players down the left flank but his cross was met by nobody in the box.
And when, moments later, Tozer made a fine block tackle to stop Terry Gornell and Higgs parried Morgan’s feisty follow-up.
The Shrews were the better side as it wore on and Jason Crowe was called upon to make a superb point-blank block as the home side turned up the heat.
It was all hands to the pump with Higgs contributing two good saves from Gornell and Morgan and there were times when the visitors’ goal led something of a charmed life.
Morgan in particular will wonder how he did not score – he had a great chance to do so on 85 minutes but planted his header straight into the grateful arms of Higgs.