Sutton supporters becoming used to stoppage time excitement were to be disappointed this time as U's battled to a goalless draw with the team one place below them in the Sky Bet League Two table.
After an even first half of few clear chances, Sutton had seemed the likelier to break the deadlock for much of the second half. However a controversial red card for Craig Eastmond with fifteen minutes left changed the nature of the game and it was U's who were the happier to hear the final whistle as Northampton enjoyed their best spell of the game looking to make the extra player count, with a draw regarded by most as a fair result.
U's welcomed David Ajiboye back in to the starting line-up, and he was greeted by a crunching tackle from Ali Koiki inside the first five minutes, but much of the excitement was confined to a sixty second spell when Jon Guthrie met a right wing corner with a header that was saved by Dean Bouzanis, whose throw-out sparked a Sutton counter attack in which Joe Kizzi sent Ajiboye through on the right, his cross deflected up off Koiki and was met on the volley by Ali Smith, only for Liam Roberts to make a good save down to his right.
Bouzanis was off his line quickly to parry a shot from Chanka Zimba, who had run on to a Sam Hoskins pass and turned between Ben Goodliffe and Louis John, but otherwise the first half found defences on top and the ball spending too much time in the air for the game to be a great spectacle.
There was almost a flying start to the second half for U's, when after little more than a minute Ajiboye this time gave Kizzi the chance to send in a superb cross that found Will Randall coming in with a firm downward header, but Roberts made another impressive stop and Randall couldn't force home the rebound before Aaron McGowan cleared.
Roberts saved again, this time in more routine fashion, when a shot from Omar Bugiel deflected up and Isaac Olaofe's header lacked sufficient power, but with Bouzanis having little to do apart from watching a Mitch Pinnock shot curl harmlessly past the post, U's seemed to have the upper hand until Eastmond's challenge on Mitch Pinnock, which seemed to make no contact with the Northampton player and which referee John Busby seemed relatively unconcerned about until an intervention from reserve official Trevor Kettle, himself an EFL referee who had sent Stevenage's Terence Vancooten off at Sutton in September, and after a brief conference the referee surprised most people in the ground, not least Eastmond, by producing a red card.
From being on the attack U's then found themselves on the back foot, Kenny Davis replacing Olaofe and Bugiel left to plough a lone furrow up front, and Northampton's two substitutes could both have struck decisive blows, with a sliding Danny Rose just unable to reach McGowan's low cross, and Dylan Connolly's first touch a swivelling volley which went inches wide following a long Pinnock throw. Otherwise U's defence was sound, and claimed a deserved clean sheet as the points were shared.
Sutton: D Bouzanis, J Kizzi, R Milsom, C Eastmond, B Goodliffe, L John, D Ajiboye(sub E Boldewijn 72), A Smith, O Bugiel(sub R Bennett 90+6), I Olaofe(sub K Davis 77), W Randall. Subs n/u J Barden, B Wyatt, S Nelson, D Wilson. Sent Off: Eastmond
Northampton: L Roberts, A Koiki, A McGowan, J Sowerby, J Guthrie, F Horsfall, S Hoskins, P Lewis(sub D Connolly 90), S McWilliams, C Zimba(sub D Rose 58), M Pinnock. Subs M Harriman, J Flores, T Magliore, J Mills, J Maxted. Booked: Lewis, Horsfall, Rose.
Referee: John Busby
Attendance: 3,588(500 away)