DCSIMG

Jefferson Lake’s Northampton Town v Hartlepool United view and player ratings

BIG MOMENT - the Cobblers players celebrate Brennan Dickenson's goal in the 2-0 win over Hartlepool (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)

BIG MOMENT - the Cobblers players celebrate Brennan Dickenson's goal in the 2-0 win over Hartlepool (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)

 

The Cobblers may remain dead last in the Football League table but the win over Hartlepool was a vital one and brought with it a plethora of firsts.

There were first goals in Northampton colours for Mathias Doumbe and Brennan Dickenson, a first Sixfields win since November 30 (against Accrington) and a first clean sheet since the December 29 stalemate at Portsmouth.

This was a first home win for manager Chris Wilder and - as the theme gradually runs out of steam - a first look at new signing Zander Diamond, who was consistently the first-ball winner in Northampton’s defensive box.

But first and foremost this was a significant victory, in terms of invigorating the supporters, maintaining the fight for League survival and making a strong start to a hugely important week that contains three successive home fixtures.

With the exception of Torquay, who were beaten at home by Accrington, most of Town’s fellow strugglers won - Wycombe improbably turned over Chesterfield and Bury picked up a warmly welcome three points at Wimbledon. Bristol Rovers had beaten Burton Albion on Friday night.

Portsmouth, who could be a club to keep an eye on in the coming weeks and months, were routed 5-1 at Scunthorpe but the wins elsewhere made the victory over Hartlepool even more important.

While the gap remains an alarming five points, a loss on Saturday would have shovelled another gigapascal of molten pressure on Northampton and ensured the alarm bells remain on full volume in the Sixfields corridors.

Hartlepool were probably the ideal opposition; a mid-table club with nothing really to play for and a group of players who lived up to that carefree billing by arriving second to every loose ball.

The low quality of their performance has to be taken into consideration when assessing how good Northampton actually were, and it must also be said they were almost certainly shaken by a bad injury to right-back Michael Duckworth, who left the field on a stretcher after only 10 minutes and was visibly distressed by his injury.

The timing of the goals, too, was vital.

Doumbe scored in first-half stoppage time and Dickenson two minutes after the restart; as the cliche goes, there are few worse times to concede.

Dickenson’s goal especially seemed to have a big effect - it was the game’s key moment and ruptured any momentum Hartlepool hoped to build.

It was interesting that it was Doumbe - who has not scored all season - who notched a header at a set play and not the more aggressive and larger Diamond, although the presence in the box of the latter definitely helped the former find the necessary space to score.

Goals have been in short supply throughout the team so for a defender to register one is very important and they must look to mine that source to the maximum in the remaining 15 matches.

Nine of those fixtures take place at Sixfields, two of them in the next week. If Northampton are to stay up, they will do so by picking up points at home.

If they win, say, seven of those nine games then it might not matter what the sides above them do.

The Hartlepool win has to be viewed as a springboard to a good week. And, after that, maybe to a good finish to the season.

Player ratings

MATT DUKE

Was a spectator for most of it but pulled off two or three key saves when called upon to do so ...7

LEON McSWEENEY

Provided the firm basis from which Hackett could attack down the right and got forward to good effect himself too ...7

ZANDER DIAMOND

A debut packed with promise and power - won just about every aerial ball in his own box and most of those in Hartlepool’s ...8

MATHIAS DOUMBE

Played pretty much like he does every week but Hartlepool’s toothless attack meant he could often carry the ball out of defence ...7

JOE WIDDOWSON

Almost had an afternoon off but carried out his duties when he had to and before an ankle injury ended his afternoon prematurely ...6

CHRIS HACKETT

Created both goals and was a menace all afternoon. Seems to be back to full fitness and was razor sharp in this match ...8

RICKY RAVENHILL

First to everything in central midfield and put himself about when he had to. Didn’t seem at all uncomfortable with Hartlepool’s 4-2-3-1 system ...7

DARREN CARTER - STAR MAN

An exemplary display of central midfield that had a little bit of everything - intercepting, passing, tackling, breaking forward, positioning - to a very high standard ...8

BEN DICKENSON

Did very well to ‘fill in’ for Marquis (who had hurt himself earlier in the move) and get in the centre-forward position to score the vital second ...7

EMILE SINCLAIR

Without question, his pace unsettles defences but there were a couple of moments when his decision-making could have been better ...6

JOHN MARQUIS

The youngster is certainly a handful and managed to combine power and speed with a nasty streak that upset a couple of visiting players ...6

Substitutes:

GREGOR ROBERTSON (for Widdowson 66)

Slotted in easily at left-back following the injury to Widdowson ...7

ALAN CONNELL (for Sinclair 66)

An interesting cameo that included a Cruyff turn and a narrow miss ...7

GARY DEEGAN (for Marquis 85)

Brought on as part of a tactical reshuffle that saw a five-man midfield used

Not used: Morris, Tozer, Snedker, German

 

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