Defenders on target as in-form Cobblers discard Harrogate to continue superb run

Harrogate Town 1 Northampton Town 2

By James Heneghan
Saturday, 11th December 2021, 5:47 pm
Fraser Horsfall was on target.

Cobblers continued their superb run of form with an eighth win in 10 games as they discarded a promotion rival for the third game running, with Harrogate Town this time on the wrong end of a 2-1 defeat at Wetherby Road on Saturday.

Northampton started so well in North Yorkshire and deservedly led through Fraser Horsfall's early opener, but they were on the back foot once Jack Diamond superbly fired Harrogate level.

It was all change in a dominant second period though when the Cobblers controlled things from the outset and deservedly came away with all three points after scoring the decisive goal, that coming courtesy of Jon Guthrie's well-placed header four minutes into the half.

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The visitors never looked like surrendering their lead and duly held on to make it eight wins in 10 and beat yet another promotion rival. They are five points clear of third and four behind leaders Forest Green, who were held to a spectacular 5-5 draw at Oldham.

There is nothing spectacular about how Cobblers go about their business but they are so effective and difficult to play against, and with Mitch Pinnock's set-piece causing chaos, opposition teams are struggling to come up with an answer.

Without injured pair Shaun McWilliams and Kion Etete, Jon Brady reverted back to 4-4-2 and gave Nicke Kabamba his first league start in over two months.

Sam Hoskins was extremely unlucky not to hand Cobblers a third-minute lead when lifting a delightful free-kick up and over the wall before seeing it cannon off the inside of the post and bounce away to safety.

No matter, fast forward four minutes and Northampton did have the lead. Harrogate's defence were all at sea from Pinnock's in-swinging corner and Horsfall was left unchallenged to convert at the back stick.

Harrogate's problems may have worsened only moments after that when Kabamba was seemingly tripped by Warren Burrell as he bore down on goal, but referee Carl Brook waved away the protests for a free-kick and a red card.

Whilst Harrogate did improve, their equaliser midway through the first-half was something out of nothing. It was a brilliant individual strike by Diamond who gathered the ball on the left and cut inside several defenders before smashing into the top corner.

That lifted the home team and they had the lion's share of possession for the remainder of the first-half, with Liam Roberts handling well in the wet conditions to hold Alex Pattison's low drive

The game died down a little in the closing stages of the first 45 minutes but Roberts had to come to Horsfall's rescue shortly before half-time when producing an excellent double save from Luke Armstrong and George Thompson after the skipper coughed up possession.

Like in the first-half, Cobblers came out flying after the break and Kabamba missed a great opportunity to restore the lead only two minutes in, shooting tamely at Mark Oxley after latching onto a short back pass.

But Town were back in front 90 seconds later and again it came from a set-piece with Pinnock whipping in another delicious cross that Guthrie expertly headed into the bottom corner.

Cobblers were much improved in the second-half and Kabamba saw a shot beaten away by Oxley whilst set-pieces continued to torment the home defence.

Harrogate barely threatened throughout the second 45 minutes and in truth it was relatively straightforward for Northampton who got the job done once again for a fourth successive victory.

Harrogate: Oxley, Page, Falkingham (c), Burrell, Thomson, Sheron (Fallowfield 72), Pattison, Kerry (Muldoon 81), Hall, Diamond, Armstrong

Subs not used: Orsi, Cracknell, Power

Cobblers: Roberts, McGowan, Horsfall, Guthrie, Koiki, Sowerby, Lewis, Hoskins (Flores 88), Pinnock, Kabamba, Rose (Connolly 85)

Subs not used: Maxted, Dyche, Pollock, Ashley-Seal

Referee: Carl Brook

Attendance: 2,166

Cobblers fans: 574