A night to be oh-so proud for history-making Cobblers - verdict, reaction, tweets and highlights

It sounds a little daft after holding Championship opposition to an excellent goalless draw but the Cobblers played so well and did so many things right in this tight tussle with Derby County that there was a tinge of frustration come the full-time whistle.

Saturday, 25th January 2020, 10:31 am
Updated Saturday, 25th January 2020, 11:00 am
Wayne Rooney was the centre of attention before kick-off but he was nullified by the Cobblers throughout. Picture: Pete Norton

If that sounds like nit-picking, it's not meant to be. It's a compliment and a reflection of just how well the Cobblers equipped themselves against a side bursting with international quality during Friday's fascinating, if low on goalmouth action, FA Cup encounter.

Sometimes a 0-0 draw against higher-league opposition can require a backs-to-the-wall job where you defend for your lives, throw bodies all over the place and require a little bit of luck. But there was not even a whiff of that here.

Town's unbeaten home streak looked in severe threat ahead of kick-off but it remains very much intact, now into double figures, and comfortably so too given that Derby did not take a single shot on target throughout the 90 minutes.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

That's a quite extraordinary stat when you look at the abundance of quality available to Phillip Cocu and the vast difference in resources at the two clubs. Wayne Rooney was the centre of attention before kick-off but he barely had a kick.

That's testament to Town's resolve and resilience at the back, qualities they've demonstrated in abundance this season. Led by inspired captain Charlie Goode, who headed just about every ball that came into his half, they can be an attacker's nightmare to play against.

Jordan Turnbull strolled through the evening with typical ease and a mention must also be reserved for Michael Harriman, who was so good as the third centre-back that fears Scott Wharton would be missed proved misplaced.

It wasn't as if the Cobblers were hanging on for dear life, in fact they weren't hanging on at all - goalkeeper David Cornell might not get an easier clean sheet all season - and while chances did not arrive by the bucketload at the other end, Town did have their opportunities.

Vadaine Oliver hit the crossbar early on, Andy Williams fired into the side-netting and Matty Warburton curled wide. They were probably the pick of their chances and all it needed was one of those near misses to go the other side of the woodwork and Town would have claimed a truly famous victory.

Even late on, when the Cobblers should have been tired and on the retreat, they easily kept Derby at arm's length. The Rams might have been poor but they were made to look poor by a determined team carrying out an excellent gameplan.

"We had chances and there are ifs and buts," said Keith Curle afterwards. "But when we got forward, we got forward in numbers and we got into good areas but we just needed a bit more quality.

"When they got into the final third, they have got quality but we defended our goal very well today. I think you could probably go through the whole team because we performed at the top end of our game."

The result also created a little bit of club history. The replay will mark Town's first FA Cup game in February since 1970 and they will also be in the fifth round draw for the first time since the same year, though of course must first beat what will surely be a much-improved Derby side at Pride Park to get there outright.

From a practical point of view, an extra game to an already busy schedule is not ideal as Cobblers chase promotion but it's another grand occasion to look forward to.

Thousands will make the trip north to once again roar their team on. And who's to say their magical cup run will end at Pride Park? Certainly, on the evidence of Friday night, it is not a foregone conclusion.

Selected tweets:

Vadaine Oliver: "Great performance from everyone tonight stood up to the challenge and showed great character against a very good side can’t wait for the reply. Unbelievable support again."

James Whiting: "A night to be incredibly proud of our Club on and off the pitch! Our @EmiratesFACup run goes on but now full focus on a big game on Tuesday night."

Michael Harriman: "Unbelievable support today, thought we gave a great account of ourselves, very worthy of a replay but on another day think we could of had more."

Paul Anderson: "Unbelievable support tonight . I thought we were unlucky not to win that. It shows what this group can really do. Roll on the replay."

Nicky Adams: "Top effort from all the lads last night. Some shift against a top side and shows what a set of boys we have. Take that into the rest of the season and look forward to the replay. Great night for everyone."