Spencer levels late for U’s against table topping NorthamptonA last gasp equaliser from Jimmy Spencer secured an excellent point for Cambridge United against League leaders Northampton Town at Sixfields Stadium in Sky Bet League Two.
The Cobblers looked to have got the better of the U’s when John Marquis gave Chris Wilder’s side the advantage 20 minutes from time, but a well taken half volley from Spencer in the 90th minute ensured 901 travelling fans made their way back to Cambridge in a joyous mood.
The U’s lined with one change as Wolves loanee Zeli Ismail made his first start on the right wing for the U’s in place on Jimmy Spencer.
United dominated the opening encounters of the match, with Ben Williamson twice forcing his way in behind the Northampton defence, dragging a shot wide from the first attempt on goal of the game.
However the hosts grew into the match and took control of ball possession with James Collins drilling a mid-range effort over the cross bar on 17 minutes. United stayed strong defensively though with both Williamson and Zeli Ismail offering the U’s great pace on the counter attack.
A set piece delivery by Harrison Dunk midway through the first half, found a combination of Leon Legge and Josh Coulson in the Cobbler’s area, whose floated header dropped inches wide of Adam Smith’s far post.
As the half wore on both sides enjoyed spells on the ball and Shaun Derry will have been pleased with the defensive discipline shown by his men in keeping the Cobblers at bay.
A half volley from Ryan Ledson and a bobbling effort from Zeli Ismail kept Adam Smith on his toes before the break, whilst a fizzing shot from Lee Martin saw Norris quickly down to his left on 40 minutes to ensure the deadlock remained unbroken.
Although the U’s started the second half brightly they failed to test Smith in the Northampton goal, and it was in fact the Cobblers who had the first chance of the period when an unmarked James Collins headed straight into the hands of Norris from eight yards out.
Much like the first half, Chris Wilder’s side gathered control of the ball but the U’s continued to stay well-structured and defend manfully to reduce the work of Will Norris.
However with 70 minutes on the clock the pressure from the hosts told, when John Marquis found enough space in the U’s 18 yard box to poke the ball into the net from Joel Byrom’s corner.
A weaving run from Jimmy Spencer allowed Ryan Ledson to take a crack at goal as the U’s went in search of an equaliser, but the Everton loanee was unable to keep his attempt on target and it sailed into the stand behind. Berry rose well to get on the end of Spencer’s chip into the area moments later, but the skipper too failed to test Smith from 10 yards.
United continued to pile the pressure on the League leaders, and Leon Legge came close to levelling when he powerfully headed Ryan Haynes’ cross from the left towards goal but Smith was able to claw it away from danger.
But just as the game seemed to have passed the U’s, a looping cross into the area fell at the feet of substitute Spencer, who caught the ball sweetly on the half volley to level the scores in front of a jubilant Cambridge following.
Despite a flurry of late chances from the Cobblers, Shaun Derry’s side held on for an excellent point which gave their play-off ambitions real momentum.
Northampton Town: Smith, Moloney, Diamond, Byrom, Holmes, Buchanan, Collins (Rose, 81 mins), Martin (D’Ath, 62 mins), O’Toole, Prosser, Marquis
Cambridge United: Norris, Furlong, Legge, Coulson, Haynes, Ismail (Omozusi, 90 mins), Dunne, Ledson, Berry, Dunk (Spencer, 70 mins), Williamson
Attendance: 5,828 (901 U’s fans)