Mans­field mess up Joe’s big day out

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Tim Mor­riss

DE­LIGHTED Northamp­ton as­sis­tant manager Alan Knill hailed the never-say-die at­ti­tude of his ten-men Cob­blers af­ter a con­tro­ver­sial 93rd­minute penalty boosted their play-off push and de­nied rel­e­ga­tion-threat­ened Mans­field a sec­ond suc­ces­sive home win.

The vis­i­tors, beaten in mid­week at bot­tom club Hartle­pool, dom­i­nated the sec­ond-half de­spite John-Joe O’Toole’s 36thminute red card and Vadaine Oliver’s opener for the Stags.

And they were re­warded late on when Ivan Toney drew a foul from Ju­nior Brown and Marc Richards con­verted the penalty.

Mans­field mid­fielder Simon Hes­lop struck the bar with a free-kick, while Ja­son Tay­lor headed Law­son D’ath’s cor­ner against the bar.

“Ob­vi­ously we are de­lighted to get the point, but af­ter our sec­ond-half per­for­mance we are dis­ap­pointed not to get all three,” said Knill.

“The ball was only ever in their half af­ter the goal even though we had ten men.We were ex­cel­lent. We took the game to Mans­field.

“Marc Richards missed his last penalty but he has just put his head down and smashed it into the net.”

Northamp­ton fans made the match John-Joe O’Toole Day in trib­ute to the mav­er­ick mid­fielder with many of the 1,200 trav­el­ling sup­port­ers wear­ing long-haired wigs only to see him sent off for an off-the-ball clash with Richie Sut­ton.

Knill added: “John-Joe said their lad had him in a head­lock and he re­acted. It was a big day for him, a great oc­ca­sion and it is sad the way it ended.”

Mans­field led through Oliver’s sixth goal of the sea­son, the striker pounc­ing from close range from Lee Beev­ers’ free-kick, and manager Adam Mur­ray thought they should have won.

Mur­ray, who came on as a late sub­sti­tute for the first time since Novem­ber, said: “We have been cheated – sim­ple as that.

“The ref­eree has given the penalty against some­one who didn’t even go in for a chal­lenge.

“Their lad shoved the ball through Ju­nior Brown’s legs and Ju­nior never moved. We were up against a top side and, once we’d set­tled down af­ter the first 15 min­utes, we played some great stuff.

“We showed af­ter the goal that we are near the bot­tom.We got anx­ious and ev­ery­one in the ground got anx­ious.”

The player manager also praised 18-year-old man-of-the-match Jack Thomas, whose in­ci­sive pass­ing on his full de­but had Northamp­ton on the back foot for an hour.

“Jack has got a big fu­ture. To come into a team that’s go­ing through the sit­u­a­tion we are in shows his strength of char­ac­ter,” added Mur­ray.

STAR MAN JACK THOMA

S Mansfi

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