Cobblers thrash Shrewsbury to bounce back in style despite Toney brace
Paul Anderson netted a brace as Cobblers returned to winning ways by piling more misery on rock-bottom Shrewsbury Town with a comprehensive 4-2 victory at Greenhous Meadow on Saturday afternoon.
Rob Page would have been looking for a reaction from his players after Tuesday's derby disaster, and in theory there was no better place to do that than struggling Shrewsbury who were without a win in their last eight games.
And they didn't disappoint as Northampton controlled proceedings from virtually the very first whistle with Gabriel Zakuani and then Anderson putting them 2-0 ahead on the half-hour mark,
Ex-Northampton favourite Ivan Toney came back to bite his former club when winning and then converting a penalty to briefly revive hope of a comeback, but Shrewsbury rarely ever looked like getting something out of the match.
The Cobblers were easily the game's superior and classier team, and the final scoreline reflected that as Sam Hoskins volleyed in a third before Anderson grabbed his second with a fine individual goal.
Toney did notch his and Shrewsbury's second with another spot-kick deep into added time but that came far too late with the three points heading safely back to Northampton.
The result will come as relief to Page as much as anything else with the victory - Town's first in October - halting their worrying slide down the table and lifting them back up to a more than respectable eighth.
After Tuesday's failed experiment at Peterborough, Page reverted back to a more conventional line-up for the visit to Shrewsbury with Jak McCourt, John-Joe O'Toole and JJ Hooper coming into the team.
Page also ditched 3-5-2 and set up 4-3-3, and against a Shrewsbury team that included Toney up front, Cobblers made a brisk start with home goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler flinging himself to tip away Anderson's goalbound header.
It was then the turn of Adam Smith to produce a fine save as he denied Louis Dodds from close-range in an open, enterprising start.
Hooper wriggled clear at the other end and shot meekly wide before the game naturally settled down and found it's rhythm although both teams continued to carry a goal threat.
Toney's first real involvement was to blaze well over from distance but it was the visitors who gradually gained the upper-hand before striking at the midway point of the first-half.
After set-pieces were their undoing in midweek, Northampton this time profited from one as McCourt's well-delivered corner was nodded into the net by Zakuani for his first goal since signing for the club.
Their lead was just about merited on the balance of play up until that point, and it was to get even better a few minutes later.
Hooper had been a source of constant danger throughout the opening half and the second goal owed all to his fine work on the left touchline which resulted in Anderson poking home at the back post, putting Town in command.
But Northampton immediately relinquished their firm grip on proceedings when Zakuani mistimed his lunge on Toney and the former Cobbler had no hesitation in stepping up and emphatically dispatching the subsequent spot-kick.
Toney had another shout for a penalty waved away on the brink of half-time as Shrewsbury took confidence from the goal but remained a goal down at the break.
A bright start to the second-half saw substitute Lewin Nyatanga, who had replaced Zakuani, head over and Hooper shoot wide before Alex Reevell also got up well to direct a header just wide of the far post.
Toney put his free header over from a Shrewsbury free-kick but that was largely against the run of play with Jak McCourt unleashing a vicious effort at the other end which Leutwiler did well to parry clear.
As the hour-mark ticked by, Northampton really should have had more to show for their play having dominated much of the game, and finally they got their noses further in front.
This time the goal stemmed from another McCourt corner which Shrewsbury failed to deal with and the ball fell kindly to Hoskins who rifled a sweetly-struck volley into the bottom corner.
McCourt's set-pieces had troubled Shrewsbury throughout and Leutwiler was on his toes to beat away another one moments later, while a rare period of home pressure then resulted in AJ Leitch-Smith heading wide.
But the fizz had very much gone out of Shrewsbury's play after the third goal and their misery was compounded in the final minute when Northampton added a fourth through Anderson, who burst from midfield and fired a terrific low shot that squirmed into the bottom corner.
A late penalty from Toney did give the scoreline a closer look but Cobblers never looked in danger of letting a much-needed victory slip from their grasp.
Shrewsbury: Leutwiler, Lancashire (Sarcevic 45), McGivern, Sadler; Riley, Black (Deegan 33), Ogogo (c), Dodds, Brown, Waring (Leitch-Smith 68), Toney
Subs not used: Halstead, Mangan, O'Brien, Ebanks-Blake
Cobblers: Smith, Moloney, Diamond, Zakuani (Nyatanga 45), Buchanan (c), Anderson, O'Toole (Richards 85), McCourt, Hoskins, Hooper, Revell
Subs not used: Cornell, Byrom, Potter, Gorre, Beautyman
Referee: Trevor Kettle
Cobblers fans: 593