Clinical Cobblers battle to excellent away win at Burton Albion

Marc Leonard scored his fourth goal in six games during Saturday's clash at Burton Albion.Marc Leonard scored his fourth goal in six games during Saturday's clash at Burton Albion.
Marc Leonard scored his fourth goal in six games during Saturday's clash at Burton Albion.
Burton Albion 0 Northampton Town 2

Cobblers combined clinical finishing with a battling defensive display to grind out a terrific 2-0 victory at in-form Burton Albion on Saturday.

After a brief early flurry from the hosts, Town defended superbly against Burton’s direct and physical style of football and they barely gave up a decent chance all game whilst being ruthless at the other end.

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Marc Leonard’s deflected strike opened the scoring before a sweet finish from Mitch Pinnock doubled the advantage at half-time, and the visitors defended their lead with grit and determination in the second half to keep a clean sheet and claim three more important points.

Cobblers have now virtually secured their safety with 12 games still to go and their tally of 48 points is already more than they managed in each of their last two seasons in League One, a reflection of just how much they have surpassed expectations.

Jon Brady selected the same starting line-up for the third game in a row but there were changes on the bench where Jack Sowerby and Manny Monthé replaced Dom Gape and Tuesday’s last-gasp hero Tony Springett, who missed out with illness.

Brady chose to watch proceedings from the gantry instead of the touchline at first and he wouldn’t have been pleased with his side’s start as Burton dominated early on and nearly had a fourth-minute lead when Mason Bennett headed wide.

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Burton’s relentlessly direct style of football was causing problems for the visitors and their willingness to get the ball forward at every opportunity led to more chances as Ademola Ola-Adebomi sliced over and Deji Oshilaja stabbed wide.

It took a while but Cobblers eventually got a foothold in the game and enjoyed some time on the ball, and with their first meaningful effort, they broke the deadlock. Leonard’s rich vein of goalscoring form continued with his fourth in six games although this one won’t be up for any awards after his 23rd-minute strike from range took two significant deflections and wrong-footed home goalkeeper Max Crocombe.

Louie Moulden was at full stretch to keep out Ryan Sweeney as Burton sought a quick response, but Cobblers could have had a second on the break when space opened up for Kieron Bowie, whose low shot was held by Crocombe.

A second goal did arrive shortly afterwards though and it came thanks to a mistake from Burton nine minutes before the break. A loose pass was seized upon by Pinnock and, with no defender near him, he took a touch before fizzing a 20-yard shot into the bottom corner.

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Burton started the second half like they did in the first but Cobblers again withstood the barrage and maintained their advantage through to the hour-mark.

Shaun McWilliams and Louis Appéré were sent on by Town and the former so nearly scored a stunner with his first touch of the ball, taking aim from all of 30 yards and striking the inside of the post. Pinnock’s long-range effort was then held by Crocombe.

Bowie stabbed another attempt over the bar while Burton kept coming and kept sending balls forward but they were repelled time and again by stubborn Cobblers defending as the visitors refused to wilt.

A couple of late chances did go begging for the hosts, Mustapha Carayol going closest when thrashing just wide in stoppage-time, but they could find no way through Town’s excellent defence as the visitors added another three points to their increasingly impressive tally.

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Burton: Crocombe, Brayford © (Kamwa 69), Oshilaja, Sweeney, Helm (Carayol 57), Hamer, Bola (Seddon 57), Nsiala, Powell, Bennett (Hugill 57), Ola-Adebomi (Hudlin 57)

Subs not used: Blackman, Gilligan

Cobblers: Moulden, Willis, Sherring, Guthrie ©, Brough (Monthé 86), Fox (McWilliams 69), Leonard, Hondermarck (Sowerby 86), Pinnock, Bowie, Simpson (Appéré 69)

Subs not used: Dadge, Moore, Hoskins

Referee: Tom Reeves

Attendance: 3,953

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