Hartlepool fight back to beat Cobblers after Hoskins' opener
Hartlepool United 2 Northampton Town 1
Luke Molyneux scored a late winner as Hartlepool United fought back from a goal down to beat the Cobblers 2-1 at Victoria Park on Saturday.
This was a vastly improved Town performance compared to the one against Sutton, of that there is no doubt, but yet again they were undone by familiar failings, chiefly their inability to turn pressure into goals.
They started and ended the first-half on top and eventually made their superiority count when Sam Hoskins whistled home a volley three minutes into the second-half.
But David Ferguson levelled with his head just moments later before Molyneux capitalised on some slack defending seven minutes from time to inflict a second successive league defeat on the Cobblers.
Town have only a solitary victory from their past seven games in all competitions and their good start to the season has now become an average one having dropped down to 14th.
The return of defender Jon Guthrie from COVID was a boost for manager Jon Brady, but he had to do without fringe players Jonny Maxted, Dominic Revan and Michael Harriman after all three picked up injuries in midweek.
Town made a dominant start and the first three minutes were spent exclusively in Hartlepool's half, almost culminating in the opening goal when Sam Hoskins' curler was clawed away by home goalkeeper Ben Killip.
Cobblers remained firmly on the front foot and another good chance came and went as Kion Etete muscled out a home defender but then took too long to pull the trigger, allowing Zaine Francis-Angol to slide in with a block.
Hartlepool were not at the races at all in the early stages and misplaced numerous passes, but Cobblers could not make that sloppiness count and inevitably the home side, encouraged on by a buoyant atmosphere, found their feet.
The visitors were lucky to survive two moments of danger as a goalmouth scramble was eventually smothered away before Will Goodwin spurned the game's best chance up to that point, tamely shooting straight at Liam Roberts after being slipped in.
Cobblers managed to wrestle back the initiative and end the first-half on top, but for all their good pressure, Killip was not put under serious pressure.
The Hartlepool stopper was called into action within three minutes of the restart though when Cobblers broke swiftly through Etete and Paul Lewis who released Hoskins and his low drive was tipped wide.
But there was to be no denying Hoskins just two minutes later when he fired Cobblers into the lead, latching onto Guthrie's flick and lashing a low volley into the bottom corner.
Town had barely finished celebrating though and their lead was wiped out. Barely two minutes later, James Sterry crossed to the back post and Ferguson rose above McGowan to power a head into the top corner.
The visitors continued to look dangerous in attack though as Etete headed over, but they would have gone behind with 15 minutes remaining if not for a spectacular save by Roberts who somehow kept out Molyneux's close-range shot.
But a terrible passage of play summed up Cobblers' afternoon and cost them a hard-earned away point. They threatened to score themselves when Etete wriggled into the box and had substitute Dylan Connolly for support, but 20 seconds later the ball was in the back of their own net.
Etete misplaced his pass, Hartlepool broke downfield and Molyneux was afforded the freedom of Northampton's penalty box to stick away a volley and score what was the decisive goal.
Hartlepool: Killip, Sterry, Hendrie (Cook 61), Byrne, Francis-Angol, Ferguson, Featherstone, Shelton (Grey 61), Daly (Odusina 88), Molyneux, Goodwin
Subs not used: Mitchell, Ogle, Cullen, Fondop
Cobblers: Roberts, McGowan, Horsfall (c), Guthrie, Koiki, McWilliams, Sowerby (Connolly 78), Lewis, Hoskins, Pinnock (Kabamba 85), Etete (Ashley-Seal 87)
Subs not used: Woods, Dyche, Pollock, Flores
Referee: Ben Toner
Cobblers fans: 250