Exeter denied at the death as Cobblers snatch a point
Andy Williams scored in the final minute of normal time as Cobblers demonstrated their never-say-die attitude by dramatically denying Exeter City and snatching a point from Saturday's League Two clash at St James Park.
The Grecians had won one of their last six games but few would have begrudged them all three points on Saturday when they took advantage of a Northampton side who had been surprisingly out-of-sorts for much of the contest.
However, trailing 2-1 with just seconds to go, Town again displayed their new-found resilience under Keith Curle through a combination of Williams and a home defender, who between them smuggled David Buchanan's corner into the net to rescue a 2-2 draw and extend their unbeaten run to four league games.
Earlier, an entertaining first-half ebbed and flowed but City were the happier side at half-time after Jake Taylor and Jayden Stockley both struck, with Billy Waters' second goal of the season coming during a rare period of Northampton dominance.
The Cobblers held more of a foothold in the second-half but chances were few and far between and it appeared they would be disappointed for the second week running, that was until Williams popped up at the death.
There were two changes to the Cobblers team for their long trip down to Devon as Keith Curle recalled Daniel Powell and Waters to the starting line-up while defenders Shay Facey and Ash Taylor were back on the bench following injuries.
Town were given two warnings in the opening exchanges when Taylor failed to make the most of being afforded time and space inside the box, shooting straight at David Cornell, and then Lee Holmes' deep cross hit the woodwork and bounced to safety.
But the visitors, slow to get going, did not make the most of those let-offs and were behind on 14 minutes as Holmes slipped in Taylor, who was again given freedom in a dangerous area and this time he picked out the bottom corner.
More hesitation at the back allowed Tristan Abrahams to get a shot away but Cornell was out to block, while Kevin van Veen only remotely threatened with a pair of speculative efforts up the other end.
Despite their out-of-sorts start, though, the Cobblers levelled things up just shy of the half-hour mark through a sweeping counter-attacking goal. Waters began the move from an Exeter corner and after Sam Hoskins and John-Joe O'Toole were both denied, he applied the finishing touch when the ball fortuitously rebounded off his body and into the net.
The goal woke the Cobblers up and they were close flipping it around completely within two minutes when Hoskins swung in a teasing cross and van Veen's diving header was straight at Christy Pym in the home goal.
Exeter were still a threat up the other end with Holmes and Stockely both a whisker wide of finding the bottom corner, and they reclaimed the advantage before half-time through the latter, who scored his seventh headed goal of the campaign when directing Craig Woodman's cross in off the post.
Curle's displeasure with his side's first-half performance was illustrated when the teams emerged for the second-half and he shook things up by bringing on both Taylor and Facey for Jordan Turnbull and Hakeem Odoffin.
The result was more sloppy mistakes and disjointed play though, almost punished by City's Nicky Law whose attempt from distance cannoned off a defender and sailed narrowly wide.
There were intermittent signs of life from the Cobblers as the second-half progressed and they nearly scored their second equaliser of the day when Pym failed to get the required distance on the punch and the ball dropped to Aaron Pierre, but his overhead kick drifted off target.
Williams was thrown on by Curle with 20 minutes to play but the Cobblers onslaught was slow in arriving and instead Exeter looked more likely to add to their lead as Stockley side-footed wide from 12 yards.
As time seeped away, good approach play between Shaun McWilliams and Buchanan led to Waters wriggling free but he snatched at his shot and it seemed as if time had beaten the visitors.
But in the final minute of normal time, they salvaged a dramatic point when Buchanan delivered an excellent corner and the ball ricocheted off Williams and an Exeter defender to creep over the line, sending the 300 plus away supporters into jubilation. And once four minutes of injury-time passed, they were able to celebrate again, this time the sound of the referee's whistle.
Exeter: Pym, Sweeney, Woodman, O'Shea, Martin, Tillson, Law, Holmes (Ogbene 77), Abrahams (Forte 71), Taylor (c), Stockley
Subs not used: Hamon, Jay, Oates, Croll, Collins
Cobblers: Cornell, Odoffin (Taylor 45), Turnbull (Facey 45), Pierre, Buchanan (c), McWilliams, O'Toole, Waters, Hoskins, Powell, van Veen (A Williams 71)
Subs not used: Ward, J Williams, Bridge, Roberts,
Referee: Peter Wright
Cobblers fans: 329