By Micky Shoemaker
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Southend 1 – 1 Cobblers
Northampton Town manager Stuart Gray saw his squad decimated by the withdrawals of Giles Coke and Brett Johnson to an illness that has swept Sixfields.
Joe Burnell had already been ruled out, while Daniel Jones and Danny Jackman were forced to play despite being some way short of match fitness.
Colin Larkin scored the opening goal in a 1-1 draw that keeps alive the Cobblers slim play-off hopes. However if Leeds beat Doncaster the dream will have to be put on hold for another season.
Southend went into the game as the in form team in League One and Gray was understandably delighted to pick up a point in such circumstances, especially as Southend were made to fight for the draw, with former Town loanee Lee Barnard on target.
Captain Chris Doig returned to the Cobblers senior side for the game, and his return was a welcome one for the manager.
"His season has been a bit stop-start," he said. "But Chris is such a professional that he's looked after himself and kept himself up to fitness.
"It's the match fitness he needs to build up but all credit to him he came through 90 minutes at Southend on a warm day with no real problems."
Southend: Flahavan, Francis, Clarke, Barrett, Mulgrew, Black (Revell 77), Bailey, McCormack, Gower, Barnard, Walker. Subs Not Used: MacDonald, Collis, Moussa, Grant.
Goals: Barnard 51.
Northampton: Bunn, Gyepes, Doig, Dolman, Crowe, Gilligan, Dyer (Jackman 59), Holt, Jones, Larkin (Hubertz 76), Akinfenwa (Henderson 71). Subs Not Used: Dunn, Hayes.
Booked: Bunn, Gyepes.
Goals: Larkin 24.
Ref: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire).
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