Northampton suffered a big blow to their League One survival hopes on Saturday as they drew 2-2 against Gillingham.
Saturday's results mean the Cobblers can still survive with two games remaining, but it is now looking a tough task with Jon Brady’s men four points from survival with two games to play.
Story of the match
Northampton tried to start on the front foot and Alex Jones left a couple of early blows on Robbie Cundy to show a sign of intent.
Olly Lee had a great chance to open the scoring on six minutes when a clearance fell to his feet on the edge of the box. A heroic block from Lloyd Jones denied him, however, before Joseph Mills put a free-kick wide at the other end.
Gillingham did however take the lead after 12 minutes. Olly Lee’s corner was met by Jack Tucker, who had a brilliant chance to score himself. His header was tame however, but former Cobbler Vadaine Oliver went storming in to finish high into the roof of the net for his 19th goal of the season and put his team 1-0 up.
It should’ve been two for Gillingham just four minutes later. Dominic Samuel found space on the right and opted to shoot rather than cross. The ball looked destined for the far corner, but Jonathan Mitchell somehow tipped the effort round the post to keep it at 1-0.
Gillingham continued to pepper the away goal as Kyle Dempsey forced Mitchell into another good save, but Northampton should undoubtedly have been level midway through the first-half.
With Jack Tucker under pressure and Northampton pressing high, the centre-back tried to play back to Jack Bonham in goal but got it all wrong. Alex Jones ran into it and was one-on-one with plenty of time, but he got it all wrong and fired well over to let the Gills defender off the hook.
Mickel Miller tested Jack Bonham from range as half-time approached, and Hoskins fired wide before the break.
Ogilvie and Samuel headed over and wide respectively as Gillingham dominated the start of the second-period, but Bonham had to save at the other end to preserve his side’s clean sheet.
He then dropped a cross almost right into the path of Lloyd Jones, but Gillingham had their two-goal cushion on 68 minutes thanks to Olly Lee.
After a long ball, Lee found himself with a bit of space but a bouncing ball. He drove towards the side before firing low to the goalkeeper’s right, and the ball beat Mitchell to double the Gills’ lead.
The lead was back to one soon after, though. A cross from the right wasn’t dealt with by the Gillingham defence, and substitute Ryan Edmundson slotted past Bonham to pull one back for the visitors.
And suddenly the game was level. Poor Gillingham defending cost them again, as a corner was headed home by Fraser Horsfall. The Northampton bench was on the pitch as they called for a winner, and Danny Rose forced Bonham into a good save in the closing moments.
Gillingham heads were in hands when Dominic Samuel rattled the post, but the game finished all square, leaving Gillingham rooted in mid-table and Northampton deep in the relegation zone.
Takeaways from the match
Northampton show spirit
Gillingham led 2-0 with just over 10 minutes to go in the game, but threw away a lead at that scoreline for the second time in three games to earn only a point from the match.
And Northampton showed fantastic spirit. They made the second-half a battle and it would have taken someone brave to bet against them winning the game after Horsfall headed home.
It may be coming too late for them, but the team and fans can be proud of the fight shown in recent weeks.
The Gills midfielder has really come into his own in the last few months and put in another brilliant showing on Saturday.
MacDonald fights hard going both forwards and backwards and is starting to show that bit of quality he is more of capable than showing. A positive of Gillingham's end-of-season 'collapse'.
Rose only came on at half-time but put in a great shift up top. His energy seemed contagious, and he proved a nuisance to the Gills on and off the ball.
Gillingham: Bonham, Jackson (McKenzie 90), Cundy, Tucker, Ogilvie, O'Keefe, Dempsey, MacDonald, Lee (Graham 88), Samuel (Sithole 88), Oliver.
Subs not used: Bastien, O'Connor, Woods, Johnson.
Northampton: Mitchell, Kioso, Jones, Horsfall, Mills, McWilliams (Edmonson 57), Morris, Watson (Chukwuemeka 75), Hoskins, Jones (Rose 46), Miller (Marshall 57).
Subs not used: Woods, Harriman, Bolger.