The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Thomas Han­nah

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.’’

PIC­TURES: Media Im­age

JUMP FOR JOY: Ryan Cress­well cel­e­brates af­ter Northamp­ton go in front

OVER AND OUT: An­drew Boyce misses the tar­get


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