Barnsley clinch the points at Sixfields as Cobblers slump to third straight league defeat

Cobblers suffered a third defeat in succession on Saturday when beaten 2-1 by promotion hopefuls Barnsley at Sixfields.
Akin Odimayo gets away from Barnsley's Callum Styles at Sixfields (Picture: Pete Norton)Akin Odimayo gets away from Barnsley's Callum Styles at Sixfields (Picture: Pete Norton)
Akin Odimayo gets away from Barnsley's Callum Styles at Sixfields (Picture: Pete Norton)

Town gifted the Tykes a fourth-minute lead, even if it was a brilliantly taken by Callum Styles, but they were the better side for the rest of the first half and forced their former goalkeeper Liam Roberts to be at his best on a couple of occasions.

It was a similar story in many ways though as Jon Brady’s side generally played well and did all the right things until they reached the final third where their good approach work was undone by poor decision-making and execution.

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Barnsley increasingly threatened on the break and their win was secured two minutes from time when another bad decision led to Devante Cole streaking away and scoring his ninth of the season.

Cobblers did at least end their duck in front of goal as Louis Appéré netted deep into stoppage-time but that came far too late to affect the outcome.

Shaun McWilliams replaced the injured Jack Sowerby for his first start of the season and on-loan striker Tyreece Simpson also returned to lead the line as Brady made two changes from last weekend’s defeat to Port Vale.

But the home side were rocked just four minutes into the game when a mistake from goalkeeper Lee Burge was ruthlessly punished.

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His miscued clearance dropped straight to Styles and the Barnsley man pulled off a superb first-time volley from well outside the penalty box on the left.

Ex-Town stopper Roberts denied his former team a quick response, leaping to his right to beat away Jon Guthrie’s powerful header, as Cobblers reacted well to the early setback and threatened a leveller.

Roberts was also at full stretch when Mitch Pinnock took aim with a sweetly-struck volley as Cobblers applied plenty of pressure and slung a number of balls into the Barnsley penalty box, but the visitors defended well and maintained their lead through to the break.

The Tykes are rated by many as one of the strongest teams in the division but they were being matched by Northampton and that continued to be the case in the second half. The home side were just lacking some composure in the final third as players got in each other’s way and too many passes went astray.

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There was no shortage of effort or endeavour, and Brady turned to his bench with Ben Fox and then Appéré, but as things became increasingly desperate, space opened up for Barnsley on the break.

Styles’ weak effort was easy for Burge but Town’s goalkeeper had to be at his absolute best to keep his side in the game when producing a magnificent reaction stop to tip Devante Cole’s header onto the crossbar.

Cobblers huffed and puffed and Brough shot wide, but any hope of some late drama was dashed with two minutes to play when a poorly executed short corner routine led to Cole running the length of the pitch and slotting in Barnsley’s second.

Town kept going with Manny Monthé heading over and Roberts saving from Bowie, and they did get themselves a deserved consolation through Appéré’s close-range finish but it was too little too late.

Match facts

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Cobblers: Burge, Odimayo (Monthé 83), Sherring, Guthrie ©, Brough, McWilliams (Appéré 76), Leonard, Pinnock, Hoskins, Bowie, Simpson (Fox 68)

Subs not used: Thompson, Lintott, Haynes, Abimbola

Barnsley: Roberts, Williams ©, Lopata, Kane, O’Keeffe (Cotter 69), Styles, McCart, Dodgson (Cadden 89), Phillips (Russell 63), Coles (McAtee 89), Cosgrove (Watters 63)

Subs not used: Cotter, Shepherd

Referee: Alan Young

Attendance: 7,522

Barnsley fans: 1,391