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It’s home sweet home as Cobblers see off stubborn Rochdale

THUMBS UP - Adebayo Akinfenwa celebrates after scoring from the spot to put the Cobblers 3-1 ahead against Rochdale (pictures: Kelly Cooper)

THUMBS UP - Adebayo Akinfenwa celebrates after scoring from the spot to put the Cobblers 3-1 ahead against Rochdale (pictures: Kelly Cooper)


 

The Cobblers maintained their reliability on Sixfields soil with an 11th home win of the season at the expense of a stubborn Rochdale side.

Clive Platt’s header, a scrambled Kelvin Langmead effort and Adebayo Akinfenwa’s 16th of the season - from the penalty spot - were enough to down Dale 3-1.

The excellent Chris Hackett recovered from a bad afternoon at Rotherham last weekend to play a major part in two of the goals in a man-of-the-match performance.

But the key factor for the Cobblers may be Sixfields itself. Only once on a Saturday afternoon has the team been beaten on their own ground in a period of almost 10 months.

Rochdale were resilient and a force in the contest for a good hour of it before being submerged - they started the game brightly, with a flighted ball in behind evading Tozer for Terry Gornell to collect and break down the inside-left channel only for Langmead to expertly position himself to make the block on the eventual shot.

Several of Akinfenwa’s goals this season have come from Tozer’s long throw and he almost had another with a header that beat visiting keeper Josh Lillis but landed on the roof of his net.

However, it was the away side who continued to make the running in the early exchanges, Andrew Tutte bursting clear down the right and playing a square pass for George Donnelly to meet with a shot that Clarke Carlilse had to block on the line.

Jason Kennedy blazed the rebound horribly wide and Northampton came through uncscathed in what was a very good first half-hour for Dale.

They were unfortunate not to have the lead in the game when Platt provided it for the Cobblers, Hackett playing two copybook crosses with his sweet right foot; the first was headed away and the second headed into the bottom corner by the number nine. The striker, a former Rochdale player, did not celebrate the goal in any way.

Platt then almost turned provider, rolling the ball into the path of Harding who struck a left-footed shot narrowly wide.

Harding ensured a bright start to the second half for the hosts with a delicious corridor pass that just evaded Akinfenwa on the stretch 10 yards out.

Still, Lee Nicholls was required to make a breathtaking save to deny Donnelly, who slipped in behind Town’s offside trap and fired a shot that looked certain to be a goal.

Hackett then cut inside and struck a firm shot that Lillis smothered away under pressure from Akinfenwa as the game began to open out.

Rochdale had been a force throughout the contest and claimed the equaliser their positive play warranted when Jason Kennedy converted Kevin McIntyre’s cross under pressure.

But the joy was short-lived. Clarke Carlisle, who has scored two front-post headers at corners already this calendar year, appeared to have notched a third when he connected with Harding’s ball in.

Play appeared to stop momentarily as the ball rattled around among the bodies before Langmead drilled it home to cancel any debates about whether the initial effort was over the line.

Town’s third certainly was, a confident penalty by Akinfenwa after Hackett had tumbled in the box at the end of a swift counter-attack.

O’Donovan almost put the icing on the cake with a curled shot from 25 yards that struck the foot of the post but three, as has been the case in five of their 10 home wins this season, was enough.

Cobblers: Nicholls, Tozer, Carlisle, Langmead, Widdowson, Hackett, Harding, Guttridge, O’Donovan, Platt, Akinfenwa

Subs: Collins (for Akinfenwa 77) Robinson (for Widdowson 81), Hornby (for Guttridge 84)

Not used: Snedker, Johnson, Demontagnac, Oyeleke

Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty, Bennett, Edwards, McIntyre, Tutte, Cansdell-Sheriff, Kennedy, Haworth, Donnelly, Gornell

Subs: Grimes (for Tutte 46), Cavanagh (for Rafferty 62), Logan (for Gornell 83)

Not used: Barry-Murphy, Collis, Adebola, Pearson

Attendance: 5,110

Away fans: 225

 

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