COBBLERS IN CRUISE CONTROL
NORTHAMPTON have not lost at home to Hartlepool since 1969. It looked at times yesterday like it would be another 47 years until it happens again.
As the Cobblers raced to an early two-goal lead they were dominant to the extent they should have been further ahead after 20 minutes.
But when Pools got one back it at least made a real game of it, one which the Cobblers saw out to make it six unbeaten.
For Pools, it’s only one win in ten now, and their defensive frailties were exposed by the Cobblers from the off.
Only 34 seconds had passed when striker Marc Richards put a header wide from close range as he met a near-post corner, but he was on target minutes later.
Nicky Adams broke sharply down the left and crossed low for Richards to tap in from close range.
With constant home pressure being repelled by Pools defender Scott Harrison, the home side were rampant.
Yet Pools went close to levelling. Rhys Oates had a low shot saved by keeper Adam Smith and from the corner, Andrew Boyce planted a free header over.
Two minutes later, home defender Ryan Cresswell did the same as Boyce, screwing a corner wide with his head with the goal gaping.
On 20 minutes the Cobblers went two goals ahead. This time a corner from the left by Adams curled straight into the net. Pools’ keeper Adam Bartlett was blocked off and unable to get to the ball and, while Cresswell claimed a touch, it was Adams’ strike.
Pools, watched from the directors’ box by new honorary president Jeff Stelling, pulled a goal back.
The home defence was opened up by a Billy Paynter through ball, and striker Rakish Bingham rounded the advancing goalkeeper and rolled the ball into the empty net from an angle.
But the second half was a tame affair, with only one chance arriving – Richards missing an open goal from an angle.
Cobblers boss Chris Wilder beamed: “It’s a good win, but could have been easier. At times we played really well, especially the start.
“We went two up and took our foot off the gas. We were comfortable in the second half, they sat back and we moved the ball a bit quicker and opened them up. I feel the Orient and Oxford games take care of themselves in terms of environment and atmos- phere and what will happen – this was going to be more cagey.
“We were disappointed with their goal as it came when we were in the ascendency, but we are delighted to get the three points.’’
Opposite number Ronnie Moore said: “We didn’t start well – we knew that Northampton start games well and after 20 minutes we could have been three or four down. “We had no strength or leadership in there – that’s what worried me.
“First half we got back into it and then second half we never put them under any real pressure when we had the ball.’’
JUMP FOR JOY: Ryan Cresswell celebrates after Northampton go in front
OVER AND OUT: Andrew Boyce misses the target
STAR MAN SCOTT HARRISON Hartlepool