Cambridge United twice fought back from behind to take away a valuable 2-2 draw against Northampton Town at the PTS Academy Stadium in Sky Bet League Two.
George Maris and a late Gary Deegan pearler saw the U’s level after Kevin Van Veen had put the Cobbler’s ahead on two occasions during a thrilling second half.
The U’s made one change from their Carabao Cup clash against Newport County with Jabo Ibehre stepping into the starting eleven in place of Emmanuel Osadebe, as the U’s moved to a 4-4-2 diamond.
Brad Halliday looked lively going forward in the opening minutes of the game, first coming close to lifting a cross into the path of Ibehre which ran away from the striker, before the right back himself tested Cobbler’s keeper David Cornell with the first shot of the game.
The host’s first chance came on the counter after it looked as if George Taft had been fouled but referee Seb Stockbridge allowed play to go on, which opened up the pitch for Sam Hoskins to attack the U’s 18 yard box only for a tremendous tracking run by Gary Deegan cutting out the Cobbler’s forward’s cross on 11 minutes.
Northampton began to gather momentum through the middle part of the half, and chances fell to Andy Williams who forced a smart save from Dimitar Mitov and then Matt Crooks on the edge of the 18 yard box who drilled wide.
However, United scrapped well and ended the first half the stronger of the two sides. Jabo Ibehre looped a header over keeper Cornell at the near post from a Liam O’Neil corner but saw the effort cleared off the line by David Buchanan five minutes before the break, and Azeez too could not convert a header from a set piece.
George Maris sliced a half volley over the bar and Ibehre powered a header off target too, as Joe Dunne’s side continued to look promising offensively at the start of the second half.
However, just as United looked to have their tails up, the Cobbler’s struck on the counter attack as Kevin Van Veen finished a Northampton move that had begun with a U’s corner to give the hosts a one goal lead.
Ade Azeez was denied an almost instant response when being picked out by substitute David Amoo’s cross, as Aaron Pierre made a superb block with the goal at the striker’s mercy.
The U’s dug in though and did find a leveller, Amoo providing further threat down the right, crossing into the Northampton box and George Maris picking up a loose clearance before calmly rolling into the corner.
Six minutes later and just as United looked to be searching for a lead of their own, they were dealt another set-back as Van Veen once again profited with an expert finish from 10 yards out, after dispossessing Harry Darling of the ball.
Joe Dunne’s men once again refused to roll over, and showed great character to grab a second equaliser and this time from an unlikely source. Captain Deegan popped up in the perfect position from a Northampton clearance, to curl a magnificent shot with the inside of his right boot from range beyond Cornell with three minutes left on the clock, to send the 652 strong U’s faithful home with a point.
Northampton Town: Cornell, Buchanan, Odoffin, Taylor, Hoskins, Foley, Williams (Morias, 72 mins), Van Veen, Powell (Bowditch, 80 mins), Pierre, Crooks
Cambridge United: Mitov, Halliday, Darling, Taft, Carroll, Deegan, O’Neil (68 Mins), Maris, Lambe (Amoo, 55 mins), Azeez (Corr, 80 mins), Ibehre
Bookings: Ibehre, Carroll
Attendance: 5,047 (652)