Northampton Town set a new club record of nine straight league wins on Saturday when Danny Rose’s second-half goal was enough to overcome Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 and move the team 10 points clear at the top of League Two.
A frenetic and action-packed first half saw Northampton produce some excellent attacking football, with Ricky Holmes and Lee Martin particularly influential, but the game remained goalless at half-time due to a mixture of poor finishing and questionable refereeing decisions with Graham Salisbury turning down two strong penalty shouts for the home side.
The match continued in the same vein after half-time and eventually the Cobblers were rewarded for their good play when Rose stroked into the top corner having been set up by Holmes and Martin.
Wycombe rarely threatened although Adam Smith had to be at his best to deny Anthony Stewart, but that was the closest the visitors came in another impressive defensive performance from Town, who recorded their fourth consecutive clean sheet.
Not only did they set a new record with this win, Northampton also made it 14 victories from the last 15 league matches and 18 from 21 in all, enough to take them 10 clear at the League Two summit with rivals Oxford and Plymouth both dropping points on the same day.
Although the final scoreline suggests a tight game, in truth Northampton could have won by three or four goals as the home side created a succession of fine chances thanks to some free-flowing football but on this occasion their finishing was lacking.
No matter, Rose’s goal was enough to see off Wycombe and take Cobblers up to the 70-point mark after only 31 games.
Skipper Marc Richards failed a late fitness test prior to kick-off with a recurrence of the Achilles injury which kept him out for two months last season, while Lawson D’Ath dropped to the bench.
Nicky Adams and Martin returned to the starting line-up, and it was the latter who played an instrumental role in the game’s first opening when breaking down the left and crossing for James Collins, who miscued a volley well wide. Holmes did likewise from 20 yards after being teed up by captain for the day David Buchanan before Collins flicked Adams’ cross off target in a bright start from a visibly confident Cobblers team.
Having dominated from the off, Northampton looked to have won themselves the perfect opportunity to go in front on 13 minutes when Martin cut inside and was taken down by Marcus Bean inside the penalty area, but the referee instead awarded a free-kick to Wycombe and booked Martin for an apparent dive.
That wouldn’t derail a Cobblers side playing with such verve and swagger, though, as Martin and then Holmes went close after slick moves.
Wycombe saw plenty of the ball but little of Adam Smith’s goal, although Sam Wood almost got on the end of a teasing Luke O’Nien cross in the closest the visitors had come in the first half-hour.
Back up the other end, John-Joe O’Toole had another loud shout for a penalty turned down by Salisbury before visiting goalkeeper Ryan Allsop denied Holmes from an acute angle.
O’Toole was the next Northampton player to go close, a fabulous last-ditch tackle from Joe Jacobson preventing him from turning home from two yards out, before Wycombe broke in numbers, only to waste an excellent two-on-two opportunity.
The visitors had grown in confidence as the half progressed and they then had their clearest sight of goal but Jason McCarthy side-footed wide when unmarked from Jacobson’s free-kick.
Rose caused similar problems with a free-kick of his own at the other end, the midfielder’s cross narrowly evading everyone, as the first half somehow ended goalless.
Wycombe continued to grow into the game in the second half and almost broke the deadlock with a couple of panicky scrambles inside the home penalty area before Brendan Moloney got across well to cut out a dangerous counter-attack.
Northampton rediscovered their groove again after a period of Wycombe pressure as Collins almost reached a whipped cross from Holmes, who was then close to adding another screamer to his growing collection but his 20-yard curler sailed a yard over.
Another chance went begging on the hour-mark when Collins scooped his header over from David Buchanan’s cross and it seemed like it was going to be one of those days but, finally, on 63 minutes, the breakthrough arrived.
It stemmed from some more fine interplay down the right between Martin and Holmes with the former teeing up Rose, who found the top corner from the edge of the penalty area with a perfectly-placed shot.
Smith had been a virtual spectator up until the 70-minute mark but that was when he produced a fine low save, tipping behind Stewart’s sweetly-struck low drive.
Cobblers were a constant threat on the break, however, and substitute Lawson D’Ath squandered a golden chance to double the lead when scooping over Collins’ pull-back from 14 yards.
Northampton dropped the tempo as time ticked away, allowing Wycombe more possession but with the help of the once again impressive Rod McDonald, the Cobblers rarely looked in danger and the visitors never properly threatened Smith as the home side were able to see out a club record ninth straight win.
Cobblers: Smith, Moloney, Diamond, McDonald, Buchanan (c), O’Toole, Rose, Holmes (Taylor 80), Adams (D’Ath 73), Martin (Hoskins 86), Collins
Subs not used: Clarke, Cresswell, Prosser, Taylor, Byrom
Wycombe: Allsop, Jombati, Jacobson, McCarthy, Stewart, Bean (Ugwu 77), McGinn, O’Nien, Harriman (Sellers 90), Wood (Kretzschmar 77), Hayes (c)
Subs not used: Richardson, Bloomfield
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Wycombe fans: 809