GLOVES ARE OFF AS DUKE BAT­TLES ON

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Steve Walsh

MATT DUKE has urged his Northamp­ton team­mates to con­tinue their pro­mo­tion form against Portsmouth at Six­fields to­mor­row in or­der to move out of the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

The Cob­blers re­main locked in a bat­tle to stay in the Foot­ball League fol­low­ing their draw with fel­low strug­glers Wy­combe at Adams Park, a re­sult which leaves Chris Wilder’s men oc­cu­py­ing one of the two rel­e­ga­tion places.

Northamp­ton, who are now un­beaten in three games, have been look­ing over their shoul­der since Septem­ber.

But they could move out of the drop zone for the first time in seven months with vic­tory over Pom­pey on Mon­day – if other re­sults go in their favour.

This re­sult didn’t re­ally suit ei­ther side, how­ever, with both re­main­ing locked to­gether on 47 points with just three games re­main­ing.

But keeper Duke says what­ever hap­pens against the fallen gi­ants from Frat­ton Park, his side will have to hold their nerve through their run-in to se­cure sur­vival.

“It’s def­i­nitely look­ing rosier for us at the minute,” said Duke.

“Since the man­ager came in we have turned it around, the form we have shown has been play-off form. We have got three games to go now and they are three mas­sive games. Fin­gers crossed we’ll stay up and we’ll do our very best to do so.

“It would be a mas­sive boost for us to get out of the rel­e­ga­tion zone, but even so, it is go­ing to be a nervy af­fair down to the last game.

“We want to get out of the bot­tom two be­fore that and we want to know we can be safe with­out re­ly­ing on other people, that is the ideal sit­u­a­tion.”

Nei­ther Wy­combe nor Northamp­ton did enough to take all three points from this stale­mate in a game that was se­verely lack­ing in qual­ity as well as ac­tion, with both goals be­ing scored in an eight­minute first-half spell. Ricky Raven­hill’s spec­u­la­tive ef­fort from dis­tance for the vis­i­tors, com­bined with an er­ror of epic pro­por­tions by home goal­keeper Matt In­gram, saw the Cob­blers take the lead with the game just 12 min­utes old.

Raven­hill picked up the ball a full 35-yards from goal and launched a curl­ing cross for striker Emile Sin­clair to run on to, only to see In­gram at­tempt to gather the high ball only to drop it in to his own net.

Alan Con­nell came close to doubling the lead for Chris Wilder’s men four min­utes later, but his chest con­trol was fol­lowed by a vol­ley which went nar­rowly over the bar.

But on 18 min­utes Wy­combe were level. Aaron Pierre headed across goal into the cor­ner of the net from Matt Bloom­field’s free-kick.

The Chair­boys had the bet­ter of the sec­ond-half chances – hit­ting the bar through Dean Mor­gan’s header – and Mor­gan thought he had stolen all three points in in­jury-time be­fore see­ing the as­sis­tant raise his flag for off­side, a de­ci­sion that left Wy­combe man­ager Gareth Ainsworth rag­ing.

“We had a goal dis­al­lowed for off­side right at the end but it was a goal, it’s le­git­i­mate which is why it is hard for us to take,” said Ainsworth, whose side re­main out of the rel­e­ga­tion zone on goal dif­fer­ence.

“These of­fi­cials have got to be bet­ter at this level. Look­ing at the re­play there was no off­side, it is a to­tally le­git­i­mate goal.

“The lines­man has cost us a cou­ple of points that could be huge come the end of the year. Mon­day is a free­bie for me, no­body ex­pects any­thing out of Fleet­wood apart from me.”

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PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

THREE AMI­GOS: Aaron Pierre, right, af­ter scor­ing Wy­combe’s equaliser

RULED OUT: Wy­combe’s Dean Mor­gan scores but is then flagged off­side

STAR MAN MATT BLOOM

FIELD Wy­com

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