Richards on the spot as Cobblers hold Blades

CONGRATULATIONS - Marc Richards celebrates his goal against Sheffield United (Picture: Sharon Lucey)
CONGRATULATIONS - Marc Richards celebrates his goal against Sheffield United (Picture: Sharon Lucey)
4
Have your say

Marc Richards scored his second Cobblers goal in as many pre-season games, converting from the penalty spot to secure a 1-1 draw against Sheffield United at Sixfields.

In a match of few chances, Richards notched from 12 yards after he had been fouled in the box by Blades goalkeeper Mark Howard.

Cobblers V Sheffield United. NNL-140722-222321009

Cobblers V Sheffield United. NNL-140722-222321009

The effort cancelled out Andy Butler’s header for the visitors and ensured honours ended even in Town’s first home warm-up game.

The Cobblers started the game in their new yellow change strip and in a conventional 4-4-2 system but with John-Joe O’Toole playing in a withdrawn role behind Marc Richards.

Gregor Robertson, who began the Alloa game in a back three, played as a left-back with Kaid Mohamed given a start in front of him on the left wing.

It was the on-loan Port Vale man who fashioned the game’s first chance, firing a shot narrowly wide of Mark Howard’s right-hand post with the aid of a minor deflection.

Cobblers V Sheffield United. NNL-140722-222454009

Cobblers V Sheffield United. NNL-140722-222454009

But it was the visitors who took the lead, Ben Davies whipping in a free-kick awarded for a dubious Danny Alfei foul high on the Blades’ left wing.

Davies’ cross was hit so firmly that only the merest touch was required, and centre-back Andy Butler was the man who got the glance to take it past Matt Duke.

Northampton notably upped their intensity after the interval, with their full-backs pushing up and pressing more in the United half.

The equalising goal, though, came from much deeper with a flighted Zander Diamond pass setting Richards clean through on goal.

Cobblers V Sheffield United. NNL-140722-222025009

Cobblers V Sheffield United. NNL-140722-222025009

Howard came out to meet the striker but made a mess of it and laid his hands on Richards in a move more associated with the team down the road at Franklin’s Gardens.

The net result was a penalty to the Cobblers, and one hammered into the bottom corner by Richards for his second goal in as many pre-season games.

There was another milestone for Alex Nicholls, who played the final quarter of an hour on the right wing after replacing Chris Hackett.

It was the first time Nicholls has stepped on the Sixfields pitch as a player since his double leg fracture in October 2012, and his introduction drew a standing ovation from the crowd.

It was the last talking point of the evening, with no further goalmouth action taking place.

Match facts

Cobblers: Duke; Alfei, Diamond, Collins, Robertson; Hackett, Ravenhill, Carter, Mohamed; O’Toole; Richards

Subs: Horwood (for Robertson 67), Sinclair (for O’Toole 67), Tozer (for Ravenhill 67), Nicholls (for Hackett 76), Moyo (for Richards 84)

Not used: Langmead, Snedker, Roberts

Sheffield United: Howard, McGahey, Butler, Nditi, Porter, Crawford, Doyle, McGinn, Reed, Davies, Campbell-Ryce

Subs: Paling (for Crawford 7), Basham (for Nditi 62), Dimaio (for McGinn 62), Harris (for McGahey 62), Scougall (for Campbell-Ryce 65), Baxter (for Porter 65), McDonagh (for Reed 65), Alcock (for Doyle 67), McGuire (for Davies 67), Long (for Howard 67)

Attendance: 1,514

Sheffield United fans: 382