Cobblers on the charge as goals from Williams and Powell clinch third straight win

EARLY STRIKE! Cobblers celebrate Andy Williams' 18th minute opener. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds
EARLY STRIKE! Cobblers celebrate Andy Williams' 18th minute opener. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds

Cobblers eased to their third straight victory with a comfortable 2-0 win over Crewe Alexandra at the PTS Stadium on Saturday.

Andy Williams and Daniel Powell netted either side of half-time to lift Northampton up to 15th in Sky Bet League Two, giving Keith Curle his fifth win from eight games in charge.

Kevin van Veen impressed again

Kevin van Veen impressed again

The Cobblers led at half-time through Williams' scruffy finish - his second of the season - and it could have been more for the home side who created the clearer, more frequent chances.

The second-half was more even but Powell's crisp finish, scored with his first touch of the game, sealed the points for Northampton, who look to be firmly on the rise under Curle.

Curle made two changes from last weekend's win over Oldham Athletic with Hakeem Odoffin in for the suspended Sam Foley and Williams replacing Jack Bridge. Shaun McWilliams moved into midfield while Matt Crooks played behind Williams and Kevin van Veen started on the left in a 4-4-1-1.

The brighter start came from the Cobblers but it took a while for the first real moment of danger to arrive as van Veen headed into the arms of goalkeeper Ben Garratt while Perry Ng slashed over and Shaun Miller shot wide.

They were only half chances before the game's best opportunity came on 15 minutes when Aaron Pierre did excellently to find van Veen on the left and his cross was headed over at the back post by Sam Hoskins.

Just three minutes later and the Cobblers struck the opening blow. It all owed to the work of van Veen as he pounced on a loose pass, rounded Garratt and laid it on a plate for Williams to just about beat the defender on the line.

Crewe's response was slow in materialising despite having a strong breeze in their favour, and although they occasionally threatened with their neat, if at times risky, passing football, the better chances continued to come at the other end.

Garratt prevented Williams from doubling his tally before McWilliams cracked the crossbar with a terrific effort from the left wing, although Town then suffered a blow when key man Crooks was forced off with an ankle injury just prior to half-time.

Cobblers made a sloppy start to the second-half and that gave Crewe the initiative. A free-kick on the edge of the box cannoned into the wall and then Oliver Finney shot straight at David Cornell after the ball dropped kindly for him inside the box.

The second-half was not one for the purist, which in some ways played into the home side's hands with Crewe struggling to create a sustained period of pressure in the opposing half.

Town were inches from a second 18 minutes from time when John-Joe O'Toole headed against the base of the post, but they didn't need to curse their luck for too long. Powell, just on as a substitute, profited from good work by O'Toole to smash into the bottom corner with his first touch on 82 minutes.

That should have settled nerves around Sixfields but Callum Ainley struck the crossbar and Crewe didn't go away quietly, subjecting home fans to a few nervy moments, however the three points, rightfully, went to the Cobblers.

Cobblers: Cornell, Odoffin, Turnbull, Pierre, Buchanan (c), McWilliams (J Williams 83), O'Toole, Crooks (Waters 42), Hoskins, A Williams (Powell 79), van Veen

Subs not used: Ward, Whaler, Bridge, Iaciofano

Crewe: Garratt, Ng, Pickering, Ray (c), Miller, Bowery (Porter 45), Ainley, Kirk (Nicholls 73), Wintle, Finney, Whelan (Nolan 45)

Subs not used: Rayners, Richards, Hunt, O'Connor

Referee: Scott Oldham

Attendance: 5,041

Crewe fans: 309