Double dose of relegation woe as Sixfields stalemate sends Cobblers and Oldham down
The Cobblers had their relegation to Sky Bet League Two confirmed on Saturday when held to a 2-2 draw by Oldham Athletic on the final day of the season at Sixfields.
Town were virtually relegated before kick-off due to their vastly inferior goal difference and the inevitable was duly confirmed with a result that also sent Oldham down, courtesy of victory for Rochdale over Charlton on the same afternoon.
It appeared the first-half of Saturday’s contest was heading for stalemate before a dramatic final 15 minutes which first saw Oldham lead and then Town twice hit back.
George Edmundson scored with the first real chance of the game to give the Latics a crucial lead in their survival bid, only for Matt Grimes’ superb spot-kick and Ash Taylor’s scrappy finish to turn the game on its head.
Thomas Haymer’s header levelled things up shortly after the restart, but news of a goal for Rochdale silenced the previously noisy away fans and meant that both teams ended a disappointing season in relegation.
Dean Austin made two changes for his final team selection in caretaker charge as Matt Crooks (hamstring) and Shay Facey (knock) missed out, so Sam Foley and Brendan Moloney came in.
On a glorious sun-kissed afternoon at Sixfields, the game itself took a little while to warm up as both teams struggled for fluency and quality in a scratchy first half-hour.
Half chances were the order of the day initially, Taylor sending a header wide and Ducken Nazon’s cross-cum-shot falling kindly to Richard O’Donnell, but the contest came to life in the final 15 minutes of the opening period.
Oldham struck first blood when Edmundson’s first-time finish from Nazon’s low cutback wrong-footed O’Donnell, sending the away end wild.
The Latics were unable to hold onto their advantage until half-time, however, with Town responding impressively to going behind, scoring twice in the moments prior to half-time.
Grimes levelled from the spot, confidently slamming into the top corner after Sam Hoskins had been clumsily fouled, before Taylor scored from virtually on the goal-line.
With Johny Placide unable to hold onto Leon Barnett’s first-time shot, Town’s skipper netted his seventh goal of the season and sent his side into half-time ahead, a result which, at the time, meant Oldham were on course to join Northampton in league two.
The visitors weren’t about to go down without a fight, though, and they were back on level terms 10 minutes into the second-half with another soft goal conceded by Town, who left Haymer totally unmarked to nod Jack Byrne’s free-kick into the bottom corner.
For the second time, Oldham fans celebrated by invading the pitch but they were silenced just minutes later when news of a goal for Rochdale had their team heading for relegation again.
Either side could have won what was an entertaining and open finish at Sixfields with Nazon blazing wide for Oldham and Grimes seeing his free-kick tipped over by Placide, but clear-cut chances were at a premium and despite the visitors’ desperate need of a goal, the game finished all square as Northampton rounded out their campaign in 22nd place.
Cobblers: O’Donnell, Moloney, Taylor (c), Turnbull, Buchanan, Foley (Bridge 71), Grimes, McWilliams (Roberts 90), Powell, O’Toole, Hoskins
Subs not used: Cornell, Poole, Turnbull, Luckassen, van Veen
Oldham: Placide, Moimbe, Gardner (Benyu 73), Nazon ( Holloway 83), Doyle (c), Edmundson, Pringle, Hunt, Nepomuceno (Davies 56), Byrne, Haymer
Subs not used: De La Paz, McEleney, Stott, Obadeyi
Referee: Keith Stroud
Oldham fans: 1,453