Sweet Pinnock strike snatches dramatic last-gasp point for Cobblers in controversial clash with leaders Forest Green
Northampton Town 1 Forest Green Rovers 1
Mitch Pinnock scored with virtually the last kick of the game to rescue a dramatic but deserved point for the Cobblers in a contentious top-of-the-table clash with Forest Green Rovers at Sixfields on Saturday.
Matt Stevens' breakthrough goal 20 minutes from full-time was accompanied by a huge slice of controversy with Northampton adamant that the ball had not crossed the line.
The goal was given though and that looked to be decisive until the fifth minute of stoppage-time when Pinnock struck a sweet shot into the bottom to salvage a dramatic point and spark scenes of bedlam all around Sixfields.
Video footage showed that Stevens' goal had not crossed the line so that was a case of justice being done, and a point was the least Northampton deserved for a purposeful, positive performance that went toe-to-toe with the League Two leaders.
Pinnock's superb finish also stopped the rot and kept Cobblers in third.
Jon Brady sprung a surprise with his team selection as Dylan Connolly replaced Danny Rose in the only change from last week, meaning the Cobblers started without a recognised striker.
Sam Hoskins led the line and Town almost had the perfect start through a sensational effort from Mitch Pinnock as his curling shot clipped the inside of the post and agonisingly bounced across the goalmouth and away to safety.
Cobblers pushed men forward and took the game to the table-topping visitors, which made for an open and fast-paced contest and there was plenty of space for both teams to exploit.
Northampton were in the ascendency early with Paul Lewis glancing a header wide and Connolly bending another long-range effort narrowly past the far post.
Rovers felt their way into the game and their best chance of the first-half fell to Jamille Matt just shy of the half-hour mark, but Liam Roberts was down quickly to push the shot around the post.
Both teams continued to work promising positions but the final ball was often misdirected which meant the first-half ended goalless.
Forest Green were quick to get going after half-time and only some vital last-ditch defending by Jon Guthrie and then Aaron McGowan kept them at bay.
Cobblers' attacking threat disappeared in the second-half and they were not helping themselves with some poor passing and decision-making.
Matt hit the post before Robers made the breakthrough in hugely controversial circumstances. Stevens' header from a corner did not appear to have crossed the line as Roberts held on but the linesman thought otherwise, waving his flag to signal a goal.
Cobblers applied late pressure but a brilliant tackle denied substitute Chanka Zimba before a goalmouth scramble landed in the grateful gloves of Luke McGee.
It looked to be a lost cause for the hosts until deep into added time when they launched one late attack and the ball broke to Pinnock on the edge of the box and he emphatically and sweetly fired into the bottom corner.
Cobblers: Roberts, McGowan, Horsfall (c), Guthrie, Koiki, McWilliams, Sowerby, Lewis (Zimba 74), Connolly (Rose 84), Pinnock, Hoskins
Subs not used: Maxted, Harriman, Dyche, Mills, Flores
Rovers: McGee, Sweeney, Moore-Taylor, Godwin-Malife, Wilson, Cadden, Bernard, Stevenson, Aitchison (Hendry 83), Stevens (March 77), Matt (c)
Subs not used: Thomas, Cargill, Edwards, Young, Diallo
Referee: Marc Edwards
Forest Green fans: 276