Improved Notts Get Point at Northampton
A continually improving Notts County recorded their second draw in succession as Mark Cooper's side were unlucky to come away from Sixfields with just one point.
Northampton went into the game knowing that a win could see them promoted, however, Notts came from behind to take the lead, the Cobblers controversially levelling from the spot just minutes later to share the points.
It was the home side who had the first shot of the game, Scott Loach getting an early touch of the ball with an easy save inside the first minute.
It was a bright start for the hosts, Ricky Holmes firing wide when well placed on the edge of the box in the second minute.
Notts won themselves a corner in the fourth minute, Liam Noble's second ball in fell to Thierry Audel but the defender fired over Northampton keeper Adam Smith's bar.
Haydn Hollis reacted well as the home side looked for the opener inside ten minutes, the central defender reacting first to clear a low cross from inside Loach's six yard area.
The home side's supporters were on their feet in the 14th minute. Nicky Adams' deep free kick was met at the back post by Marc Richards, but the striker nodded inches wide of the post, with the home crowd ready to celebrate the opener.
Adam Campbell was causing problems for the hosts' defence, pressure from the former Newcastle United man got Notts possession in the 21st minute, he played it back to Curtis Thompson who drove towards goal, only to see the shot deflect wide.
The visitors continued to grow into the game and had the ball in the net on the 26th minute, Jon Stead rounding Smith to finish but the assistant referee had raised his flag for offside.
In the 32nd minute the hosts had the ball in the net themselves, but this time it was the opener. Stead rose highest from the Cobblers' corner but could only clear as far as Ricky Holmes who volleyed into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
Four minutes later and Notts were level. Jon Stead's deep cross was met at the back post by Liam Noble, Smith in the home side's goal made a smart reaction save, but Thierry Audel rose highest to the rebound to nod into the far corner for his second goal of the season.
That was to be the last key action of the first half, County deservedly going in level at the break.
Notts made a change at the break, Elliott Hewitt replacing Curtis Thompson, Hewitt going in at right back with Wes Atkinson moving into midfield.
Mark Cooper's men started the second half in the ascendency, Stead meeting Noble's low corner cleanly, the goal bound effort striking Mike Edwards on the way through to goal and deflecting behind for a goal kick.
The away side, lead by captain Stead, felt they should have had a penalty in the 54th minute. A cross from the right seemed to hit the outstretched arm of the defender at the back post, but the referee waved away the protests awarding a corner. The corner eventually fell to Adam Campbell 16 yards out, but he volleyed well over the bar.
Izale McLeod entered the fray, with Adam Campbell making way, as Mark Cooper made his second change on 55 minutes.
The striker almost made an immediate impact, Smith first saving his overhead kick, before McLeod broke down the right of the box, the striker being thwarted as he looked to shoot.
The hosts had a rare chance as the game approached 70 minutes, a vicious strike from 20 yards took a big deflection on it's way through which wrong footed Scott Loach, the ball falling just wide of the keeper's post.
Notts deservedly took the lead in the 73rd minute. Stead did well to make himself space in the box, John-Joe O'Toole bundling into the back of the striker. It was the captain who dusted himself off to take the spot kick, firing it high past smith and into the top corner for an unstoppable penalty.
Just two minutes later and the promotion chasers were level. Scorer of the first Ricky Holmes went down under pressure from Wes Atkinson, the referee pointing to the spot, to the disbelief of everyone in the Notts team.
Like Stead, it was Holmes who picked himself up to take the penalty, sending it down the middle of the goal and past the diving Loach.
With two minutes left of normal time the home side had a chance to take all three points, Danny Rose firing well over the bar from just eight yards out.
This was the home side's best chance to snatch the win, Notts seeing out the five minutes of added time with little trouble to secure themselves a much deserved point.
Team: Loach, Hollis, Milsom, Thompson (Hewitt 46'), Noble, Campbell (McLeod 55'), Atkinson, Stead, Audel, Aborah (Snijders 86'). Edwards
Subs not used: Carroll, Amevor, Murray, Sharpe
Attendance: 6,428 (438 Away)