Anderson the hat-trick hero as Cobblers claim crucial win against troubled Coventry
Keshi Anderson bagged a hat-trick on his home debut as Cobblers claimed three oh-so precious points with their first Sixfields victory since October, beating 10-man Coventry City 3-0 on a controversial afternoon that was marred by protests from the visiting fans.
Play was suspended three times in all, delaying full-time until well after 5pm, but that won’t matter much to Northampton who, finally - after a long, long wait - gave their fans something to shout about.
Going into the contest placed 18th and on a run of five straight losses, the visit of equally out-of-form Coventry was never going to be one for the purist and though it proved that way, the Cobblers will care not.
Anderson was the star of the show and his three goals, all excellent finishes, lift Town up to 16th, six points above the bottom four.
An eventful first-half saw play stopped on two separate occasions, both times due to ugly behaviour from Coventry fans who were protesting against their controversial owner, with smoke bombs and pitch invasions prompting nine minutes of first-half stoppage time.
As for the football itself, the Cobblers dominated a largely sluggish and tetchy opening 45 minutes, and their bid for victory was significantly boosted when visiting skipper Jordan Willis saw red on just 17 minutes.
Willis received his marching orders for a reckless challenge on David Buchanan but despite that, Northampton couldn’t captalise on their extra man and were kept on level terms at the interval as Coventry adopted blatant time-wasting antics.
That all changed after half-time, however, and Sixfields was finally able to celebrate a home victory - the first in six games - thanks to Anderson’s three goals, scored on 53, 64 and 76 minutes.
New boss Justin Edinburgh will now hope this is the start of something more substantial for his side, who still have work to do to steer clear of relegation danger.
Edinburgh didn’t make the raft of changes some may have expected after last weekend’s defeat at Stadium MK, with the dropped Harry Beautyman and injured Alex Revell the only two to miss out.
In came Crystal Palace loanee Keshi Anderson and fellow new signing Luke Williams, who only joined the club 24 hours earlier, as Edinburgh again went with a midfield diamond.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the opening exchanges were frenetic and scrappy as both sides took a while to settle down and feel their way into the game.
Matters weren’t helped by a lengthy break in play on 10 minutes when Coventry fans threw blue smoke bombs onto the pitch in protest of their controversial ownership, with referee Lee Probert taking the players from the pitch whilst they were cleared.
Once play eventually resumed, Coventry picked up on the front foot but any momentum they were building was brought to an abrupt halt when, on 18 minutes, away captain Willis received his marching orders for a terrible lunge on David Buchanan.
That should have given Northampton added belief but it was City who initially responded better as the hosts struggled to get going in what continued to be a low-quality opening 45 minutes.
Town had an excellent opportunity to hit the front midway through the first-half, however, when Anderson’s precise through ball found Hiram Boateng, who delayed his shot long enough to allow Ben Stevenson to get in a last-ditch challenge.
Marc Richards then curled an effort wide before the game was once again stopped by another ugly outbreak as several Coventry fans invaded the pitch, prompting Probert to take the players from the field and back to the dressing rooms.
Play was suspended for more than five minutes while order was restored, and once the players did return, Northampton resumed on the attack as 10-man City sat back and allowed the home side to control possession.
Anderson got into some promising positions without being able to apply the final touch whilst Boateng and Williams fluffed their lines in the third of nine minutes of first-half stoppage time.
With the Cobblers bossing the play but lacking composure at the crucial moments and Coventry content to sit back, the game remained goalless at the break.
Anderson curled a 20-yarder straight at Lee Burge upon the restart before Neal Eardley did likewise on the volley moments later as Northampton probed for the crucial breakthrough.
All the home side were lacking was a touch of composure in the final third, but, finally, on 54 minutes, that’s what they got, thanks to that man Anderson.
Slipped through on goal by Richards, the young striker held off the recovering defender, raced through and coolly slotted past Burge, sending Sixfields wild with relief.
Cobblers continued to make most of the running thereafter despite another smoke bomb causing a third delay, and they almost made it two just after the hour-mark when Anderson carried on good work by Boateng and saw his deflected shot tipped over by Burge.
No matter, from the subsequent corner, Cobblers and Anderson doubled their tally. After Burge clawed away Matty Taylor’s delivery, Zander Diamond pulled the ball back and Anderson was in the right play at the right time and he improvised well to flick beyond Burge.
That gave Town the breathing space they needed, and it was nearly three just seconds later through a fine piece of individual skill from Richards who flicked the ball up and volleyed towards goal but Burge saved well.
With the help of a double substitution, City tried to build some pressure at the other end but Northampton held firm - and the hosts should have been out of sight with 18 minutes remaining when an unmarked John-Joe O’Toole headed over from five yards.
That miss paled into insignificance just moments later though, when Anderson completed his hat-trick.
After more good work from the excellent Boateng, Anderson produced a third fine finish to leave Burge helpless, putting the result beyond any doubt.
That goal signalled yet another pitch invasion from angry Coventry fans and again Probert had to take the players from the field.
When play did restart, the final 10 or so minutes rather petered out before the final whistle was greeted by a huge roar and an audible sigh of relief as the Cobblers were finally able to taste victory again.
Cobblers: Smith, Eardley, Diamond, Nyatanga, Buchanan, Taylor, O’Toole, Boateng (P Anderson 86), Williams (Beautyman 90), Richards, K Anderson (Wylde 77)
Subs not used: Cornell, McDonald, Phillips, McCourt
Coventry: Burge, Willis (c), Clarke, Vernam, Reilly, Rawson, Tudgay (Rose 71), Haynes, Stevenson (Jones 71), Beavon, Thomas (Kelly-Evans 22)
Subs not used: Turnbull, Bigirmana, Reid, Charles-Cook
Referee: Lee Probert
Coventry fans: 1,463