So angry were some Darlington fans following the goalless draw at home to Boston last week they heckled the players as they left the pitch.

Saturday's scoreline may have been the same, but against superior opposition Quakers raised their game and this time the fans could feel justifiably annoyed at not snatching all three points.

Against a vastly more experienced team (the hosts had twice as many career appearances under their belts compared to Quakers), Darlington passed the ball for fun at Sixfields, their attacks gently bubbling under for long periods before finally sparking into life with a burst of speed or clinical pass and more often than not it was Anthony Peacock creating that spark.

Peacock's probing, Quakers' periods of possession and movement in midfield demonstrated their strong points and harked back to those days at the start of the season, now seemingly so long ago, when optimism was high and victories easier to come by.

Although Quakers have not won in six and sit 14th in the table, this showing provides not only confidence but also a platform to build on and, having kept two clean sheets in as many games, at least the defence appears to be back on track.

Having not scored in three, it's goals at the other end that Darlington are finding hard to come by and rarely did the recalled Clyde Wijnhard look like providing one.

He worked hard but was never played into a shooting position in Quakers' latest formation, 4-5-1, which worked to good effect.

Although the tactic was chosen with keeping a clean sheet the aim, there was no hint that Quakers were holding out for a point in the frustratingly dogmatic style Boston did last week.

With Matty Appleby providing a holding role in front of the back four, to which Joey Hutchinson was restored in place of the injured Shelton Martis, it did allow the midfield to get forward with some patient build-up play.

If, on occasions, Darlington are a good advert for League Two then last Tuesday Boston were an embarrassment to football.

Their ten men behind the ball approach was the antithesis of the way the game should be played.

It demonstrated a lack of endeavour, a lack of invention and a lack of respect for the handful of their poor supporters who had made the trip.

Having heard what some fans had to say after Tuesday's game, an infuriated Hodgson cut short his post-match interviews to personally track down the disappointed few.

He was more irate with the said fans than his team's performance, but on Saturday he was pleased with a point and delighted with the performance.

He said: "Everyone knows I don't hide my emotions and invariably people see that when I'm angry, but this time I was proud of the team.

"We set out to make sure we got a clean sheet, let's not kid ourselves about that, we put five across midfield knowing we would be able to pass the ball around but we also knew it would limit their chances of getting through to our back four.

"We probably had better goalscoring opportunities than they did but what we wanted first and foremost was a clean sheet.

"We've got to maintain the work ethic. We get well paid for one-and-a-half hour's work on a Saturday afternoon so we have got to produce that work ethic, week in, week out.

"If we can perform like that at home, with the same desire and the same commitment, we will win but we have got to lift our fans. People like Anthony Peacock can do that and once were on the front foot, once we're attacking were a very good side."

While Darlington adapted to their latest system change - the constant tinkering at least keeps opposing managers guessing if nothing else - for the first 20 minutes Northampton were the better team, creating four good chances, the best being a free header for Scott McGleish who should have done better than to direct his attempt straight at keeper, Sam Russell.

Russell was beaten by Eoin Jess but Matt Clarke cleared off the line but as the half wore on Darlington stepped up their game. Some of their passing was a joy to watch, as was Carlos Logan who had the beating out Town's right-back though he was probably just as dazzled by the winger's new orange boots as his unpredictable ball skills.

The difference between Boston and Darlington was that Quakers drove forward with confidence, playing the kind of one-touch football in the opposition's half normally only dared in the pre-match warm-up.

One move between Peacock, Logan and Adrian Webster ended with Matty Appleby seeing an 18-yard volley saved, while Cobblers were restricted to long-range efforts after the break.

The pace of Simon Johnson, playing on the right of midfield, created space for Peacock to shoot from 20 yards but his shot was parried by Lee Harper.

Later dribbled past Sean Dyce on the right and crossed for sub Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu but his dallying on the ball wasn't in keeping with his team-mates' fluid attacking and the chance was lost.

The good football wasn't incessant, there were periods in which a hard-working Darlington were content to soak up pressure but this game-plan proved effective and by full-time the home fans were getting annoyed - a true sign the visitors were on top.

Quakers came closest when Peacock picked up possession inside Northampton's penalty area with 12 minutes to play, dribbled into a good position and his left-footed shot looked a certain goal but Harper tipped on to the bar.

As with every one of the 262 travelling fans, Hodgson was delighted with Peacock's performance and said: "He's an example to everyone. It just shows, even if you're 5ft 4ins if you've got the heart the size of a dustbin lid then you can do all kinds of things on a football pitch.

"He kept the tempo going and was outstanding.

"I know it's customary for the home club to award the man of the match to one of their own players but I thought they might have made an exception."

Except for Peacock, Middlesbrough have been keen to give youth a chance but the midfield maestro could make a mug of Steve McClaren because if he can keep this up he'll swiftly move back up the leagues, with or without Darlington.

Result: Northampton Town 0, Darlington 0.

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