Etete and Hoskins on target as superb Cobblers easily see off in-form Tranmere

Tranmere Rovers 0 Northampton Town 2

Saturday, 23rd October 2021, 5:54 pm
Mitch Pinnock on the ball against Tranmere. Pictures: Pete Norton.

Cobblers produced one of their best performances for a many a moon to swat aside previously in-form Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park on Saturday.

A 2-0 victory can rarely be described as a battering but it was no exaggeration to say this could have been six or seven after Town utterly dominated throughout, especially in the second-half.

The visitors registered 18 shots and five on target in total, compared to five and zero for Tranmere, who came into this game on an eight-game unbeaten run and without a defeat on home soil all season.

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Tranmere did have the ball in the net in the first-half but Liam Roberts had been fouled in the build-up.

The defensive records of both teams suggested we would get a cagey affair and that was certainly the case for a first-half which didn't see a single shot on target.

Town had the better moments though and they went racing through the gears in the second-half to overwhelm their hosts and create a hatful of chances.

Kion Etete's superb first-time finish broke the deadlock seven minutes into the half before Sam Hoskins scored from the spot for his third goal in four games.

From there, Cobblers could have racked up three or four more such was their superiority, though two proved to be more than enough against the toothless Rovers. That's three wins and three clean sheets in a week for Jon Brady's men, who leap up to third place in Sky Bet League Two.

Kion Etete celebrates his second goal in two games.

For the fourth game in a row Brady selected the same starting XI, but there was a change on the bench as Jordan Flores replaced the injured Michael Harriman.

Cobblers' matches this season have often been slow-burners and this was no different as two defensively-strong teams cancelled each other out for much of the first-half.

Liam Feeney and Jack Sowerby did exchange long-range efforts, Town's midfielder going especially close with a sweet 25-yard strike that whistled wide via a deflection.

The first 45 minutes were not rich on goalmouth entertaining but Cobblers carried the bigger threat with Aaron McGowan slashing into the side-netting from a free-kick and Sam Hoskins blazing his potshot over.

The best chance of the first-half fell to Kion Etete when he could not quite stretch enough to get a clean header on Mitch Pinnock's fine cross. Etete also volleyed over in stoppage-time after Ali Koiki had squandered a four-on-two opportunity from a Tranmere corner.

Another opportunity went begging within 90 seconds of the restart when Paul Lewis headed Aaron McGowan's cross too close to Ross Doohan.

Hoskins then drilled wide from an acute angle but it was only a matter of time until Cobblers' good play was rewarded. The goal came seven minutes into the second-half when Pinnock's left-wing cross floated over Lewis' head and was superbly stuck away by a first-time finish from Etete.

Tranmere briefly responded but their task was made much harder midway through the half when Town doubled the lead. Referee Tom Nield pointed to the spot after Doohan felled Lewis in the box and Hoskins made no mistake, blasting his spot-kick low and hard into the bottom corner.

The chances kept coming for Cobblers and they really should have been out of sight with 15 minutes to play but Lewis side-footed over with the goal at his mercy after Doohan denied Pinnock.

Doohan also saved well from Etete before Hoskins hit the crossbar with a brilliant effort that looked destined for the top corner as Town came back with wave after wave of pressure.

The relentless Hoskins also saw a free-kick shovelled behind by the busy Doohan and the away side continued to make all of the running, never really coming under pressure at the other end.

Seven minutes of stoppage-time could have been nervy but Town's defence ensured that was never the case as they recorded another clean sheet.

Tranmere: Doohan, Dacres-Cogley, Clarke (c), Davies, MacDonald, Spearing, Foley (Watson 78), Morris (Duffy 62), Feeney (Maynard 72), McManaman, Nevitt

Subs not used: Murphy, Knight-Percival, Glatzel, O'Connor

Cobblers: Roberts, McGowan, Horsfall (c), Guthrie, Koiki, McWilliams, Sowerby, Lewis, Hoskins, Pinnock, Etete (Rose 87)

Subs not used: Woods, Revan, Flores, Pollock, Connolly, Kabamba

Referee: Tom Nield