Match report posted by Richard (view the full thread on the forum )
A all-round hardworking performance earned the Town a deserved point on their opening day encounter with Northampton yesterday, and with both sides having plenty of chances to win the game, a draw was just about a fair result, even if the Cobblers slightly shaded it following a couple of substitutions in the second half. Surprisingly, it wasn`t so much the lack of fire-power that prevented the Town from winning the game - in fact, some suspect defending nearly cost us the point we battled for.
There were a couple of surprises in Sturrock`s opening day line-up, Pook starting in midfield was one of them, the other being the presence of Hasney Aljofree at the back, who was widely expected to miss the game through injury. Phil Smith kept the keeper`s jersey, with Jack Smith, Vincent, Aljofree and Ifil making up the back four - Adams and Pook were the central midfield pairing, with Zaaboub and Roberts on the wings, and Sturrock jr getting the nod up front with Lee Peacock. The team took to the field in an even more shocking display of coloured boots than usual.... predominantly white, but Phil Smith had silver, Jerel Ifil had red, Jack Smith blue, and the two wingers wore bright yellow. Only Pook, Adams and Vincent wore black!!
Other than the boots, Northampton started the brighter of the two sides, but just when it appeared as though the Town were finding their stride when Sturrock shot over, the Cobblers took an early lead. Zaaboub and Vincent were caught too far forward on the Town`s left side, leaving plenty of time for a Northampton player to pick out his cross - he found the shockingly unmarked Kirk in the area, who bulleted a header past Smith, who had no chance. Minutes later, Kirk again was unmarked in the area - this time though, his header was straight at Smith, when it could have been far worse for Swindon.
After that though, the Town started to step up a gear, and pinned the Cobblers in their own half - though they were still looking vulnerable on the counter attack. The Town`s midfield and attack were all closing down quickly, the forwards were winning a lot of ball in the air, and Sturrock`s pace was causing problems - on more than one occasion Sturrock found himself running at the last defender, but with no support he ended up losing the ball. Zaaboub had a weak shot saved, Roberts shot wide, but the closest that the Town came to scoring was from a corner, when an effort was saved by the Northampton keeper, and for a moment, the ball threatened to fall to the feet of Sturrock, but it stayed agonisingly out of his reach.
The breakthrough the Town deserved came from a penalty. A cross into the box from the Town`s right side seemed to be drifting out for a goal kick, when the ball bounced up, and a defender stuck out an arm to control it. The referee was caught behind a group of players in the area, and probably couldn`t see it - but the offence was obvious to the hoards of travelling Town support. Luckily, the linesman saw it as well, and the penalty was awarded - after some remonstration from the Northampton goalkeeper and captain (though quite why they were complaining was anyone`s guess), Christian Roberts opened his account for the season, sending Bunn the wrong way from the spot.
Minutes into the second half, Roberts so very nearly put the Town in front. Zaaboub picked up the ball on the left, and played a beautiful pass out to Roberts on the opposite flank with the outside of his boot. Roberts picked it up, cut inside, and rifled a shot from the edge of the area, which rebounded off the post to safety.
Minutes later, Northampton boss Stuart Gray made a couple of substitutions that turned the tide of the game for a period. On came Daniel Jones, a loan signing from Wolves, and Poul Hubertz, a giant striker signed from Millwall. Hubertz`s first contribution was to get booked for lashing out at Michael Pook after a challenge - Pook went down like a sack of the proverbial, but he had made contact, a