Goal drought goes on as Moore's strike sees Millers down Cobblers

George Smith was back in the Cobblers team on Saturday. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds
George Smith was back in the Cobblers team on Saturday. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds

Cobblers saw their goal drought tick past the 400-minute mark as they fell to their third 1-0 defeat in four games when beaten by Rotherham United at the New York Stadium on Saturday.

The spirit and endeavour of Northampton could not be questioned but they could have few complaints over the final scoreline after a slick and impressive United outfit created and missed a hatful of chances while Town struggled to overly test Marek Rodak in the home goal.

Daniel Powelll

Daniel Powelll

A first-half saturated with chances somehow ended goalless as Northampton twice went close in a strong start before Rotherham took control and were only denied by some heroic visiting defending.

United forward Kieffer Moore was a troublesome figure for Town throughout and he was one of three home players to be denied by a goal-line clearance before half-time, while the visitors were also indebted to the brilliance of goalkeeper Matt Ingram.

Eventually, the home side's pressure paid off and it was no surprise that the goal came from the boot of Moore, who capitalised on hesitant defending to poke in shortly after the break.

The Cobblers did have several half opportunities to nick a point but the majority of chances continued to fall to United and it was only a mixture of last-ditch defending and wasteful finishing that prevented a more one-sided final scoreline.

Smith heads clear

Smith heads clear

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's team now drop to 22nd in Sky Bet League One but what will be of more immediate concern will be his side's struggles in front of goal as their tally for the season remains on a mere eight in 11 games.

Hasselbaink brought Dean Bowditch in for the injured Matt Crooks and George Smith replaced Raheem Hanley on the left side of midfield in the two changes from Tuesday's team that drew at Milton Keynes Dons.

Sam Foley made only his second appearance in the matchday squad since signing but there was no place for Sam Hoskins who added his name to Town's growing injury list having picked up an ankle knock in training.

Among the starters was also Alex Revell, who was returning to a former club for the fourth straight away game, and a bright start from Northampton was almost rewarded within three minutes when Brendan Moloney's cross fell to Smith, whose first-time half-volley whistled just wide from 20 yards.

Matt Grimes

Matt Grimes

The EFL's top scorer Moore, almost got in behind at the other end but Town had settled well and again put pressure on the home defence when neither Bowditch nor Smith could get a telling touch to Daniel Powell's teasing low cross.

A pulsating, end-to-end start to the game continued when a hat-trick of chances fell to Moore inside 90 seconds but some heoric Town defending kept him at bay, with Ash Taylor first producing a superb goal-line clearance before Aaron Pierre's brave block at the far post again denied the in-form United striker.

Moore also headed over from the subsequent corner while Town went back up the other end and Powell should have done better when put through on goal, dragging his shot wide of the far post.

A frantic opening 20 minutes made way for a calmer period, although United were gradually seizing the upper-hand and they were only denied an opening goal on 25 minutes by a sensational save from Ingram, who brilliantly tipped Michael Ihiekwe's close-range shot onto his crossbar and behind for a corner.

After their strong start Northampton were now barely getting a kick and the troublesome Moore again caused problems for the visiting defence when teeing up Lee Frecklington, who shot straight at Ingram, before the tricky Ryan Williams cut inside and was also denied by the visiting stopper.

A second clearance off the line, this time by Moloney, kept out Ihiekwe towards the end of the half as Town remained camped on the back foot and unable to get out.

They just about reached half-time on level terms but it took only seven minutes of the second period for the home side to strike.

A spell of United pressure ended with Shaun Cummings lining up a shot from 20 yards and though Ingram beat away his powerful effort, the ball cannoned off Taylor and fell to Moore who had the simplest of tasks from inside the six-yard box.

Williams followed that up by shooting straight at Ingram after a slick Rotherham move as the home side pushed for a game-clinching second goal, with Moore denied his own second of the afternoon by a fantastic covering block by Taylor.

Despite the introduction of Billy Waters, United remained in total control and Moore's latest attempt whizzed over via a deflection while Ingram had to be alert off his line to smother at the feet of Williams.

Then followed a rare period of Northampton pressure during which Powell saw his low effort beaten away by Marek Rodak before Waters almost got off the mark for the season in spectacular fashion, controlling, swivelling and shooting all in one movement but Rodak was equal to it.

The second-half became increasingly stretched as United looked for a killer second goal while the visitors pushed for an equaliser, and they almost found it on two separate occasions but both Bowditch and Matt Grimes saw efforts blocked.

Moore had yet another chance to double his tally when clattering the crossbar from a corner and even after his withdrawal on 81 minutes the home side piled forward with Ingram again to the rescue for Northampton by saving from Jonson Clarke-Harris.

Fellow substitute Will Vaulks also squandered a glorious late opening to seal it when miscuing wide but in the end that made no difference to the outcome of the three points as United deservedly clung on.

Rotherham: Rodak, Cummings, Ihiekwe, Wood, Mattock, Williams, Frecklington (c) (Ajayi 90), Potter, Towell (Vaulks 90), Newell, Moore (Clarke-Harris 81)

Subs not used: O'Donnell, Emmanuel, Forde, Yates

Cobblers: Ingram, Moloney, Taylor, Pierre, Buchanan (c), Powell (Richards 84), Poole, Grimes, Smith (Waters 59), Bowditch, Revell

Subs not used: Cornell, Barnett, Hanley, Kasim, Foley

Referee: Trevor Kettle

Attendance: 8,073

Cobblers fans: 566