Hoskins takes his goal tally to 10 as Cobblers cruise past struggling Rochdale

Kieron Bowie battles for possession for the Cobblers against Rochdale (Picture: Pete Norton)Kieron Bowie battles for possession for the Cobblers against Rochdale (Picture: Pete Norton)
Kieron Bowie battles for possession for the Cobblers against Rochdale (Picture: Pete Norton)
Goal machine Sam Hoskins netted his ninth and 10th of the season and skipper Jon Guthrie smashed home a stunning volley as the Cobblers cruised to a 3-0 win over rock-bottom Rochdale at Sixfields on Saturday.

Town secured a third straight win to move up to third in the Sky Bet League Two table, with Dale remaining bottom of the pile and without a win after nine matches.

The visitors actually started the match the brighter of the two teams, but the Cobblers gradually took control and were ahead at half-time thanks to a cracking strike from Guthrie.

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Hoskins then netted twice in the second half, the first on the rebound after his initial penalty was saved, and Town closed out a second successive clean sheet.

The only downside to a positive afternoon was a first-half injury to Tyler Magloire.

Cobblers made one change to the starting line-up in Tuesday night's 2-0 win at AFC Wimbledon, with Shaun McWilliams missing out through injury.

He was replaced, as he was when he came off at Plough Lane, by Louis Appere, while Josh Eppiah was named on the bench for the first time since his loan move from Leicester City.

Also among the substitutes was midfielder Ben Fox.

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Initially ruled out long-term after suffering a knee injury in the 6-0 defeat at Ipswich Town, the problem has proved to be nowhere near as serious and, following injections, he has been cleared fit to play.

The match was preceded by an impeccably observed minute's silence as a mark of respect following the death of the HRH Queen Elizabeth II, with the National Anthem then being sung.

Once the action got underway it was nip and tuck in the early stages, with the visitors perhaps having the better of things without troubling Lee Burge in the Cobblers goal.

The first goalmouth action of note came in the 20th minute, when Hoskins touched home a miss-hit cross shot from Mitch Pinnock, but the Cobblers celerations were cut short as the assistant raised his flag for a very tight offside call.

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Town were beginning to control things now, and Kieron Bowie was inches wide with a left-foot snapshot from 15 yards out, but things then turned scrappy again.

The Cobblers were dealt a blow on 40 minutes when the excellent Magloire was forced off with what looked a hamstring strain, but two minutes later there were smiles all round Sixfields as the home side took the lead through a stunning strike from Guthrie.

The big centre-half was claiming to referee Sam Purkiss he was being fouled on the edge of the penalty area, but his claims were waved away.

When Guthrie he turned round the bouncing ball dropped his way and he instinctively let fly with a left foot volley, the ball looping over Dale keeper Richard O'Donnell and into the top right corner.

It was a moment of quality to end a pretty drab half.

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The Cobblers should have doubled their lead just after the restart, but Ali Koiki, on his weaker right foot, blazed over from 10 yards after Hoskins' teasing left-wing cross had dropped to him off a Dale defender.

Town dominated the early stages of the half, but couldn't find that killer secnd goal, and they were nearly made to pay on 63 minutes, only for Dale's Liam Kelly to slice wide from 12 yards with the goal gaping. It was a great chance and he should have at least hit the target .

That seemed to spark the Cobblers back into life, and on 72 minutes they were awarded a penalty when substitute Fox was tripped in the box.

Top-scorer Hoskins stepped up to take the spot-kick, and although his initial effort was well saved low to his right by O'Donnell, the ball bounced up perfectly for Hoskins to head home the rebound and make it 2-0.

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The Cobblers were in total control now, and with nine minutes remaining it was 3-0, with Hoskins again the scorer.

This time it was a tap-in at the far post as Fox's teasing inswinging cross from the right wing evaded everybody and found the alert Cobblers top scorer lurking.

He couldn't miss, and he didn't.

Match facts

Cobblers: Burge, Sherring, Magloire (40m, Lintott), Guthrie, Koiki, Leonard, Sowerby (83m, Eppiah), Pinnock, Hoskins, Appere, Bowie (63m, Fox). Subs not used: Maxted, Haynes, Abimbola, Dyche

Rochdale: O'Donnell, White, Ball, Rodney, Odoh, Keohane, Brierley (59m, L Kelly), Graham, Nelson, Quigley, Diagouraga. Subs not used: Slicker, Seriki, Sinclair, Campbell, Malley, Henderson

Referee: Sam Purkiss

Attendance: 4,691 (Dale fans: 196)