Late Morias magic rescues point as Cobblers stage fantastic fightback to deny MK
Junior Morias scored a dramatic injury-time equaliser as Cobblers came from 2-0 down to salvage a thrilling 2-2 draw against rivals Milton Keynes Dons in a riveting local derby at the PTS Stadium on Saturday.
Town looked down and out when goals from Alex Gilbey and Chuks Aneke deservedly had Dons leading by two goals with just 12 minutes to go, but they showed spirit in abundance to drag themselves back right into the game.
Andy Williams thundered in a header to give home fans fresh hope before Morias kept his composure superbly in collecting a through ball and lifting over stranded Dons 'keeper Lee Nicholls in the first minute of stoppage-time.
It was something of a smash-and-grab job from Town having been second best to their promotion-chasing rivals for much of the contest, but that matters little as they extended their unbeaten home run to 10 matches in all competitions.
Keith Curle named an attacking team to face Dons as in came Jack Bridge, Billy Waters and Shay Facey while Dean Bowditch, David Buchanan and Hakeem Odoffin dropped out.
Kevin van Veen and Baily Cargill exchanged early long-range shots in a bright start to the game, the latter particularly close with his effort that fizzed just wide from 20 yards.
Dons then hit the front in controversial circumstances on 19 minutes when Ash Taylor was adjudged to have pulled Aneke's shirt in the penalty box. Home 'keeper David Cornell sprung to his right to keep out Aneke's spot-kick but Gilbey reacted quickly to tuck in the rebound.
An intriguing first-half had the edge of a local derby to it with home fans particularly frustrated by some marginal refereeing decisions although their side did not help themselves.
Gilbey's goal knocked the wind out of the Cobblers who started well but faded, while Dons went close to a second as Taylor raced back to clear off the line from Kieran Agard.
Town's best chances came towards the end of the opening period when Dons just about smuggled away a scramble in the penalty box before Taylor headed Bridge's free-kick onto the roof of the net.
Cobblers started the second-half as they ended the first and another melee in the MK penalty box caused more panic stations but the ball wouldn't drop for Jordan Turnbull before van Veen slashed high and wide.
A trio of chances fell to the Dons around the hour-mark but Taylor blocked well from Rhys Healey, Dean Lewington volleyed off target and Aneke cleared the stand.
Cornell then twice came to the rescue, saving from Agard after Town made a mess of trying to play out from the back and then superbly blocking with his legs from Conor McGrandles.
But a second goal was always on the cards and it came with 22 minutes remaining through Aneke, who collected Agard's deflected shot, swivelled on the spot and shot through Cornell.
The Cobblers now had a mountain to climb but Williams gave them a lifeline by crashing home a header from Bridge's corner, his fifth goal in five league appearances, to breathe new life into the contest.
Urged on by the biggest crowd of the season, that gave Town 12 minutes to find a leveller and there was to be a dramatic finish in store.
In the first of six added minutes, Cornell raced off his line to crucially keep out Healey before Cobblers broke up the other end when substitute Sam Hoskins flicked on a long ball and Morias brilliantly kept his cool to lift over the onrushing Nicholls and into the net. sparking scenes of jubilation around three quarters of the PTS.
Still the drama was not over though as both teams went on the hunt for a winner as Daniel Powell saw a shot saved by Nicholls and then Aaron Pierre headed agonisingly wide in the very final minute.
Cobblers: Cornell, Facey, Taylor (c), Pierre, Turnbull, McWilliams (Morias 72), Bridge, Crooks, Waters (Powell 64), Williams, van Veen (Hoskins 82)
Subs not used: Coddington, Buchanan, Foley, Bowditch
MK Dons: Nicholls, Williams, Lewington (c), Baudry, Gilbey, McGrandles (D'Ath 88), Houghton, Cargill, Healey, Agard (Moore-Taylor 82), Aneke (Simpson 74)
Subs not used: Moore, Pawlett, Watson, Hancox
Referee: Graham Scott
MK Dons fans: 1,449