Bowie and Hoskins on target as Cobblers climb clear of trouble with nervy victory over Cambridge United
Two goals in the space of five second half minutes from Kieron Bowie and Sam Hoskins were enough for Cobblers to make it back-to-back League One victories as they nervily edged past Cambridge United with a 2-1 victory at Sixfields on Saturday.
Northampton shaded the first half in terms of possession and territory but it wasn’t until the second half when the game sparked into life. Town scored twice in five minutes as Bowie pounced on a defensive calamity before Hoskins moved into double figures for the season with a wonderful team goal.
The home side appeared in control of the contest at that point but they became a little sloppy and reactive in the closing stages and Gassan Ahadme’s goal duly set up a tense finish.
However, a red card to Cambridge’s Paul Digby just minutes later eased nerves and although Cobblers weren’t wholly convincing in defending their narrow lead, they just about clung on for a second straight win, one which lifts them up to 15th in League One.
Jon Brady named the same starting XI that beat Burton Albion two weeks ago but he was not allowed on the touchline due to suspension having picked up his fourth yellow card of the season during the midweek cup game at MK Dons.
Cobblers made the more assured start at Sixfields and they were first to go close on 14 minutes when Aaron McGowan found Marc Leonard in a pocket of space inside the penalty shot and the midfielder’s shot was well struck but too close to visiting goalkeeper Jack Stevens.
Whilst Cambridge had their moments on the break, Town were edging things and a clearer opportunity came their way midway through the first half when Shaun McWilliams released Patrick Brough and his cross was glanced wide by an unmarked Kieron Bowie.
United’s first shot in anger saw Max Thompson beat away Jack Lankester’s low drive but it was not a game rich on goalmouth action and the opening 45 minutes ended in stalemate.
The breakthrough arrived just four minutes after the restart and it was the result of a monumental mix-up in the Cambridge defence. A long ball was played over the top and the defender and goalkeeper left it to each other, which allowed Bowie to nip between the two, round Stevens and roll into an unguarded net.
And within five minutes of that Northampton doubled their lead thanks to a superb team goal. Mitch Pinnock sprayed a glorious pass out to Leonard, he slipped in Brough and his low cross was met by Hoskins who smashed home via the post.
Danny Andrew’s free-kick flew wide while Cobblers were a threat on the break as Stevens kept out substitute Louis Appéré, but Cambridge were back in the game when they halved the deficit with 13 minutes to play, Ahadme tapping in after Thompson spilled Elias Kachunga’s long-range shot.
The visitors lost a man almost immediately as Digby was sent off for two yellow cards in the space of 30 seconds, first hauling down Appéré and then kicking the ball away, but they were still able to put pressure on the home side at a nervy Sixfields.
There were one or two scares but Cobblers did enough to claim all three points and give them some breathing space in a congested League One table.
Cobblers: Thompson, McGowan ©, Willis (Odimayo 81), Sherring, Brough, Sowerby, McWilliams, Leonard (Monthé 90), Pinnock (Appéré 71), Hoskins, Bowie (Simpson 82)
Subs not used: Dadge, Haynes, Hondermarck
Cambridge: Stevens, LBennett, Andrew, Digby, Morrison ©, R Bennett, Brophy (Kachunga 63), Lankester (Kaikai 63), May (Ahadme 63), Cousins (Thomas 63) Okenhabirhie
Subs not used: Okedina, Mannion, McConnell
Referee: Lewis Smith
Cambridge fans: 1,213