McDonald and Moloney on target as Cobblers march on

Rod McDonald celebrates his first goal for the club. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds
Rod McDonald celebrates his first goal for the club. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds
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Two goals from two defenders saw Northampton Town claim their fifth win in six games as they beat Notts County 2-1 on a bitterly cold afternoon at Meadow Lane.

This wasn’t the prettiest of wins, nor was it the most convincing, but the performance was yet another example of the Cobblers’ spirit and resilience as they moved to within four points of top spot following Plymouth Argyle’s defeat to Exeter.

County had come into this game with six wins from their last seven home matches but Rod McDonald’s first Cobblers goal had the visitors in front at half-time.

The Magpies came out flying in the second half and deservedly levelled through veteran striker Jon Stead, but Brendan Moloney’s exquisite finish from 20 yards earned Northampton another three points.

The Cobblers took another impressive away following, this time just one shy of 1,000 fans travelled to Meadow Lane, and they were again in fine voice throughout, which was rewarded with another battling performance by their side who continue to confound all the odds.

Two goals from two defenders saw Northampton Town to their fifth win in six games as they beat Notts County 2-1 on a bitterly cold afternoon at Meadow Lane.

This wasn’t the prettiest of wins but it was yet another example of the Cobblers’ spirit and resilience as they moved to within four points of top spot following Plymouth Argyle’s defeat to Exeter.

County had come into this game with six wins from their last seven home matches but Rod McDonald’s first Cobblers goal had the visitors in front at half-time.

The Magpies came out flying in the second half and deservedly levelled through veteran striker Jon Stead, but Brendan Moloney’s exquisite finish from 20 yards earned Northampton another three points.

The Cobblers took another impressive away following, this time just one shy of 1,000 fans travelled to Meadow Lane, and they were again in fine voice throughout, which was rewarded with another battling performance by their side who continue to confound all the odds.

Chris Wilder named an unchanged side for the first time this season, although Sam Hoskins missed out completely with a foot injury which meant a place on the bench for Chris Hackett.

The Cobblers showed positive intent from the off as they moved the ball around with confidence and purpose in the opening 10 minutes, though it was County who created the first opening as Liam Noble scooped over from eight yards out following Jon Stead’s cut-back.

Northampton went up the other end and saw two shouts for a penalty turned down in a matter of seconds before Nicky Adams whipped in an inviting free-kick which was begging to be turned home but it evaded everyone and went behind.

The visitors, who continued to dictate proceedings, strung together some well-worked pieces of play, and they should have been ahead on 18 minutes when Adams did brilliantly to carve out a cross for Marc Richards but the striker powered a header wide from eight yards out.

County responded through Graham Burke, who blasted narrowly over from 20 yards, but Northampton remained on top and they soon had the goal their good play had warranted.

It came after John-Joe O’Toole had been hauled down on the right hand side of the penalty area and though Adams’ free-kick was initially cleared, O’Toole did superbly to win the ball back and cushion a pass back out to Adams, whose floated cross was brilliantly headed home by McDonald.

Stead almost brought County level immediately but his header was held by Adam Smith as the home fans grew increasingly restless with their team.

But the Magpies did end the first half strongly and twice came close to equalising with Genaro Snijders seeing his shot skim off the bar and behind before Zander Diamond put in an inch-perfect tackle to intercept a dangerous cross, with the follow up effort fired into the side netting by Burke.

County then had a third opportunity to go into half-time on level terms but again Snijders couldn’t find the net from a tight angle and Northampton saw their lead through to the break.

The home side started the second half as they ended the first and the introduction of Ronan Murray had made an impact with the hosts on the front foot.

They came close to scoring when a long throw caused panic in the Northampton penalty area but Noble could only thrash over when well-placed, however that miss was soon forgotten about as the visitors levelled.

Northampton were unable to deal with a long punt forward into their penalty area and Murray knocked the ball down to Stead, who kept his cool to slot past Smith.

That brought the game to life and chances then came at both ends; County almost going ahead when a fluid move ended with Snijders inexplicably straying offside at the crucial moment before Adams had a shot well blocked by Elliott Hewitt.

Following a more subdued spell in which neither side conjured much up in front of goal, the Cobblers retook the lead with 14 minutes remaining thanks to another defender.

This time it was Moloney who, after Alfie Potter’s cross was cleared, drove forward and arrowed a perfectly-placed effort into the bottom corner, out of the reach of County keeper Roy Carroll.

The goal had come a bit out of the blue but it rejuvenated the away side who went in search of a quick third, though substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin missed the best chance when heading a free-kick wide.

That miss meant Northampton’s lead remained a precarious one and County almost snatched a late equaliser when the ball ping-ponged around in the visiting penalty area but Town scrambled clear and clung on.

County: Carroll, Hewitts, Edwards, Sheehan, Audel, Swerts, Snijders (Campbell 80), Thompson (Murray 45), Noble, Burke (Spencer 80), Stead (c)

Subs not used: Loach, Amevor, Sprockel, Smith

Cobblers: Smith, Moloney, Diamond, McDonald, Buchanan, Potter, Byrom, O’Toole, D’Ath (Calvert-Lewin 55), Adams (Watson 87), Richards (c) (Taylor 84)

Subs not used: Clarke, Cresswell, Lelan, Hackett

Referee: Andy Davies

Attendance: 5,513

Cobblers fans: 999