Frustration for Cobblers as they are held at home by Tranmere
Junior Morias scored his first Cobblers goal but it was only good enough for a point as Tranmere Rovers clung on for a 1-1 draw at the PTS Academy Stadium on Saturday.
Frustration has been the overriding emotion after many Town games so far this season and there was no better way to describe this game as they once again failed to make the most of their dominant play and supremacy in the chance-creating department.
The opening 45 minutes were more enjoyable than the goalless half-time scoreline suggested as both teams started on the front foot and looked dangerous without making the most of their opportunities.
James Norwood then pounced on weak defending to score his sixth goal of the season to hand Tranmere the lead minutes into the second-half, but Cobblers hit back within 10 minutes courtesy of Morias, who opened his account for the club.
It was all one-way traffic thereafter as Town pressed and pressed for a winner but again their finishing was their undoing with visiting goalkeeper Scott Davies not made to work hard enough in preserving a point for the visitors.
The Cobblers have now won just one of their opening six league games and lie down in 18th in Sky Bet League Two.
Dean Austin kept faith with the same 11 that beat Colchester United last weekend and they almost picked up from where they left off when Morias met Jack Bridge’s free-kick on just three minutes but conspired to spoon over from inside the six-yard box.
Action came at both ends in an end-to-end, enterprising first-half as David Cornell was quick off his line to clear from the feet of Connor Jennings, who then lofted onto the roof of the net having snuck in behind Shay Facey at the back post.
Kevin van Veen and Morias failed to work goalkeeper Davies with long-range attempts, before Sam Foley spurned Town’s clearest chance of the half when failing to convert from close-range in quick succession, denied by a goal-line clearance and then lifting over from just yards out following Bridge’s terrific approach play.
Chances were less frequent in the final 15 minutes of the half, but Mark Ellis should have given Rovers the lead when planting his free header straight at Cornell, who reacted well with his feet, before Hoskins shot into the side-netting.
Cobblers were slow out of the blocks in the second-half and they were made to pay by Rovers just six minutes in, Norwood shrugging off weak defending from Ash Taylor and Facey before calmly rolling beyond Cornell and into the bottom corner.
Town struggled to respond to that setback when Cornell then clung onto Jennings’ well-struck shot, but a rasping effort from van Veen was then followed by an equaliser.
Matt Crooks was the architect as he initiated the move, finding Bridge on the left and he showed terrific vision and composure to pick out Morias who steadied himself and easily dispatched beyond Davies.
Morias’ joy was short-lived however, as he then departed due to a hamstring injury before van Veen pulled the trigger first-time from Hoskins’ cut back and scuffed a shot too close to Davies.
Davies also beat away from Hoskins and Rovers just about scrambled clear the follow-up attempt before substitute Billy Waters was crowded out by a mass of blue bodies as he looked to get a shot off.
The chances were there for the Cobblers to win it but they couldn’t take them as two more points slipped through their grasp.
Cobblers: Cornell, Facey, Taylor (c), Pierre, Buchanan, Hoskins, Crooks, Foley, Bridge (O’Toole 75), Morias (Waters 66), van Veen
Subs not used: Ward, Odoffin, Barnett, Bowditch, Williams
Tranmere: Davies, McNulty (c), Monthe, Norwood, Jennings, McCullough, Caprice, Ellis, Smith (Mottley-Henry 54), Stockton (Bakayogo 77), Banks
Subs not used: Tollitt, Mullin, Glimour, Cole
Referee: Nicholas Kinseley
Tranmere fans: 691