More home frustration for Cobblers as they are held by fellow strugglers Morecambe
It was another day of frustration for struggling Cobblers as they were held to a 1-1 draw by fellow basement boys Morecambe at the PTS Academy Stadium.
Town led at half-time thanks to a debut goal for on-loan midfielder Timi Elsnik, and created and wasted several other chances before the break.
They would live to regret those missed opportunities, as Richie Bennett notched a leveller seven minutes into the second half to secure a precious point for the Shrimps.
As for the Cobblers, they remain unbeaten at the PTS since early September, but this point has done little to ease fears they are going to get sucked further into the relegation battle in Sky Bet League Two.
Manager Keith Curle made three changes to the team that lost 3-2 at Cambridge United, with Shaun McWilliams and George Cox both ruled out through injury, and Andy Williams dropped to the bench.
New loan signings Joe Powell and Elsnik both came in for their Town debuts, while Ash Taylor returned to the starting line-up after missing the past two games with a groin problem.
Town lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, with Taylor partnering Jay Williams and Aaron Pierre in the centre of defence, while Powell and Elsnik lined up in the centre of midfield with Jordan Turnbull.
Jack Bridge was switched to left wing-back, with Sam Hoskins and Junior Morias the front two.
After a cagey start from both teams, it was the Cobblers who carved out the first real opportunity, with Bridge crossing from the left to Junior Morias, but his header was straight at goalkeeper Mark Halstead and easily saved.
Morias then poked wide following a long throw from Taylor caused chaos in the Morecambe penalty area.
Morecambe had their first serious effort on goal on 21 minutes, but Sam Lavelle’s header from a corner was easy for Cornell, and within a minute, the Cobblers were ahead, with Elsnik the scorer.
Bridge picked the ball up wide on the left, and his shot from a tight angle was saved by Halstead. From the rebound, the ball pinged around the sic yard box before falling perfectly from Elsnik, who rifled the ball home from six yards with his left foot.
Halstead got something on it, but the shot was too powerful to keep out.
Morecambe weren’t exactly piling the pressure on in search of an equaliser, but Cornell was forced into a save from an Andrew Tutte effort after a quick counter-attack on 32 minutes.
The Cobblers were the better side and playing the better football, and they closed the half strongly and really should have extended their lead.
On 35 minutes, Morias was upended on the edge of the Morecambe box, but referee Lee Collins played a good advantage as Hoskins was in on goal, but his low shot was well saved by Halstead, before the Cobblers no.7 then sent the rebound wide.
Hoskins again went close just before the break, but his header across goal from the left edge of the six yard box after Shay Facey had kept a deep cross live drifted the wrong side of the post.
There was still time for another Town effort, with Elsnik trying his luck with his right foot from 20 yards, but the shot flew just wide via a deflection off a Morecambe defender.
Town started the second half brightly and almost made it 2-0 through Morias, but the striker was denied a tap in at the far post by Halstead, who got a crucial hand to Aaron Pierre’s outswinging left wing cross.
Morecambe then went close through Oates, before equalising on 52 minutes.
A ball down the middle wasn’t dealt with by the Town defence, and Tutte picked it up and made a break before setting Kevin Ellison free down the left and his low cross was tapped in at the far post by Richie Bennett.
It was all too easy.
Hoskins tried his luck again, this time firing a 25-yard shot into the sidenetting, before Morecambe almost took the lead on 64 minutes.
A rare lapse in concentration from Jay Williams allowed Vadaine Oliver space on the left side of the penalty area, and his stinging shot was parried away by Cornell.
As the game wore on, the Cobblers struggled to piece together any sustained attacking spells, while Morecambe grew in confidence and stature.
They certainly looked the more threatening, with a linesman’s flag denying Oliver, and then in the dying minutes they had a gilt-edged chance to win it.
A ball through the middle found substitute Liam Mandeville unmarked, but he fluffed his lines, slicing his shot horribly wide from 15 yards when it looked easier to score.
The Cobblers for their part didn’t really trouble Halstead in the closing stages, and the final whistle was met with a chorus of boos from the frustrated home supporters.
Cobblers: Cornell, Facey (56m, A Williams), Taylor, J Williams, Pierre, Bridge, Turnbull, Elsnik, J Powell (76m, Roberts), Morias (70m, D Powell), Hoskins. Subs not used: Buchanan, Coddington, Pollock, C McWilliams
Morecambe: Halstead, Mills, Kenyon, Tutte, Bennett (90+2m, McKay), Oliver, Ellison, Sutton, Lavelle, Oates (72m, Mandeville), Cranston. Subs not used: Conlon, Old, Szczepaniak, Mendes-Gomes, Hedley.
Referee: Lee Collins
Morecambe fans: 96