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Listing Town hauled in by 10 man Mariners

Tom Reed reflects on the visit of Grimsby to Sixfields…

Cobblers blew two winning positions as 10 man Grimsby Town netted a draw a 2-2 draw at Sixfields. Northampton faded like the winter sun after a bright start that saw Keith Curle’s side take a 4th minute lead.

Andy Williams smashed home a back stick volley with latecomers still taking their seats but Cobblers just couldn’t hold their lead. Town suffered from a lack of artistry and drive in central midfield with John-Joe O’Toole all at sea. That gave Grimsby a route back into the game when Town really should have had a second from a 20th minute Buchanan half-volley saved by James McKeown.

Returning centre-back Ash Taylor failed to close down Grimsby’s fleet-footed Wes Thomas on 36 minutes with the forward feeding red-head Ben Pringle who sent over a cute cross, dispatched by Charles Vernam. Derby County schooled Vernam, who had a spell in Iceland shows cool nerves to chest the ball down, switch to his left and slot past Dai Cornell from 10 yards.

Home manager Keith Curle’s preferred 3-5-2 formation got another outing but its inbuilt strength was undermined by patchy performances by too many Cobblers players. Ash Taylor was a contentious choice in the back 3 and the Merseyside centre-half failed to put in a showing that will shut up the shoe army critics. His first 45 was littered with basic passing and positioning errors that will have fans questioning the nuts and bolts of his game.

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Not that he was alone in having an off-day with Sam Hoskins ineffective, his football brain appearing to have been switched off for the day and fan favourite O’Toole lumbering around on the game’s margins. Local lad Shaun McWilliams meanwhile just couldn’t get meaningful touches to the ball in a callow display that happens from time to time at his age.

Grimsby hadn’t won in 3 matches on the road but it was clear that their healthy away following of nearly 700 sniffed blood. The Codheads in the South Stand were vociferous throughout and grew in decibels after half-time as the away side grew dominant on the hour mark.

Yet, Town’s shining light as night drew in was Dutchman Kevin Van Veen and the striker stroked home a superlative free-kick on 74 minutes good enough to win a game at any level.

Van Veen had spent the game showing first touch beyond the likes of Taylor but unable to latch on to poor passing from his team-mates yet made sure of notching with a 20 yard dipping set-piece that had McKeown flailing.

Cobblers just had to hold out for quarter of an hour but failed to do so as Harry Cardwell slammed home with 10 minutes to play.  In an Argos superstore of a defensive lapse, Cobblers static back line committed a catalogue of errors from a Pringle stood up cross which left Cardwell unmarked to score.

Grimsby had the last laugh and were further smirking when Danny Collins cut down Van Veen on a free run to goal. Collins’ subsequent dismissal was scant punishment for the Mariners who sailed away with a point.

Town remain 8 points off the playoffs but question marks remain over the whole squad’s ability to turn matches like this when a bit of football is required.

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Player Ratings

Cornell 6

Taylor 5

Pierre 6

Turnbull 6

McWilliams 6

O’Toole 6

Hoskins 6

Foley 6

Buchanan 7

Williams 6

Van Veen 8

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