Clinical Cobblers move into play-off places with emphatic win over lowly Morecambe
Cobblers moved back into the League Two play-off places with an ultimately comfortable, if not always convincing, 4-1 victory over relegation-threatened Morecambe at the PTS Stadium on Saturday.
Town ran out emphatic winners on the scoreboard, but they were made to work extremely hard by the lowly visitors and it might have been a very different story had the Shrimps done more with their first-half chances.
If truth be told, the Cobblers were poor for much of this contest but a combination of their clinical finishing and Morecambe's wastefulness helped them extend their unbeaten home run to nine matches in all competitions.
Paul Anderson scored his first goal in his second spell at the club just days after extending his contract and then he was involved again when Ryan Watson made it 2-0 in first-half stoppage-time.
Nicky Adams made it 3-0 and after the Shrimps pulled one back, Chris Lines wrapped things up with a sensational thumping volley as Town moved up to a season-high sixth place.
Boss Keith Curle named the same team for a third straight game but his side were slow to warm up on a chilly afternoon at the PTS.
Morecambe hadn't made the long drive down just to sit back and defend and they were willing to push men forward going the other way in an even opening 20 minutes.
Cobblers were unable to find their best stuff and they needed goalkeeper David Cornell to be on form to keep them level as he flew away to his left to keep out George Tanner's shot before saving a tame effort from Cole Stockton after Morecambe had once again cut through Town's defence.
But Cobblers moved in front against the run of play with a goal just shy of the half-hour mark.
Curle had said in the week that Anderson needed to add goals to his game and the midfielder promptly obliged when his teasing ball into the box was missed by Jordan Turnbull, deceived goalkeeper Mark Halstead, and nestled into the far corner.
Morecambe could feel aggrieved to be behind and they continued to defy their lowly league position by creating chances, almost hitting back instantly as Jordan Slew's cross deflected off a defender and had to be hacked away on the line by Sam Hoskins.
Anderson was also called into defensive action, producing a brilliant block from Toumani Diagouraga, but he was then involved at the other end as Town doubled their lead in first-half stoppage-time.
Adams showed good composure to take a touch and lay the ball off to Anderson, whose cross-shot was flicked in by the deftest of touches from Watson and Town, having been second best for large parts of the first-half, were in control at the break.
It was more of the same in the second period and once again Morecambe were wasteful when they got into promising positions before being ruthlessly punished at the other end.
A third goal came 10 minutes after half-time when Halstead punched Lines' cross straight to Adams and he shot through a defender and into the net.
The Shrimps finally took one of their many chances to give themselves a sniff as Phillips was on hand to pounce after Cornell saved from Stockton, but their hopes of a comeback evaporated with 15 minutes to go.
That's when the Cobblers wrapped things up with the goal of the game as Adams stood up a cross to the back post and Lines arrived right on cue to slam a brilliant volley past Halstead and into the top corner.
Halstead had barely made a save all afternoon up until that point but he was a busy man in the closing stages, called upon to save three times from Hoskins and also prevent Lines and Matty Warburton from increasing the margin of Town's victory.
Cobblers: Cornell, Goode (c), Wharton, Turnbull, Lines, Watson, Anderson (Harriman 69), Adams (Martin 77), Hoskins, Williams, Oliver (Warburton 69)
Subs not used: Arnold, Martin, Hall-Johnson, Pollock, Waters
Morecambe: Halstead, Kenyon (Leitch-Smith 65), Old (Sutton 37), Stockton, Lavelle (c), Mendes-Gomez, Tanner, Slew, Cooney, Phillips (O'Sullivan 74), Diagouraga
Subs not used: Conlan, Brewitt, Mafoumbi
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Morecambe fans: 105