Hoskins on target as Cobblers rock Blackpool to win at Sixfields
A first-half goal from Sam Hoskins was enough for the Cobblers to notch back-to-back wins as they overcame Blackpool at Sixfields on Saturday.
Hoskins’ goal, Town’s first at home in six weeks, was well-taken and ultimately proved decisive after Blackpool failed to bring Matt Ingram into meaningful action.
The visitors dominated possession and applied plenty of pressure on the home goal but there could be no doubt that Northampton were deserving winners as the hosts dug their heels in and protected their slender lead well.
For only the second time in his time in charge, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink named an unchanged line-up as he kept faith with the same players who won 2-1 at Gillingham last weekend.
There was one change on the bench where fit-again Lewis McGugan came in for Sam Foley, who missed out through illness.
An all-action start to the game saw chances come and go at both ends inside just 90 seconds with the two goalkeepers in the thick of it for different reasons.
First, Daniel Powell seized on a loose ball and drove into the box, beating a couple of defenders in the process, before having a shot beaten away by Ryan Allsop within the first minute.
Having narrowly gone close, Town were then fortunate not to immediately find themselves trailing as opposing goalkeeper Matt Ingram dallied on the ball, allowing Nathan Delfouneso to nip in but the angle was too narrow and the striker hit the side-netting, sparing Ingram’s blushes.
It was a helter-skelter start and the game remained an enjoyable one to watch thereafter with half chances falling to Kevin Mellor and Chris Long.
The scoring was duly opened on the 20 minute mark when Northampton netted their first Sixfields goal in six weeks. The way it came about was slightly fortuitous but there was nothing lucky about Hoskins’ superb finish as the young forward, lurking on the edge of the box, showed quick-thinking to divert Matt Grimes’ wayward shot into the bottom corner, leaving Allsop wrong-footed.
Blackpool dominated possession for the remainder of the first-half but failed to do anything with it, often lacking for ideas and creativity against the solid and disciplined hosts, who seemed content to sit deep and break.
That was it in terms of chances in the opening 45 minutes and it was more of the same in the early stages of the second-half although Callum Cooke almost caught out Ingram but Aaron Pierre positioned himself well to clear off the line.
There were moments in the second period when Town lost their shape and were guilty of dropping too deep, subsequently affording Blackpool plenty of the ball and space to play in, although little continued to come of it.
Action at the other end had almost entirely dried up bar a wild effort from Grimes, with Hasselbaink bringing on Marc Richards, for his 200th Cobblers appearance, and Dean Bowditch as time ticked away.
And the Cobblers then had a wonderful opportunity to put the game to bed when Hoskins, set away by good work from Grimes and Bowditch, shot wide clean through on 80 minutes.
Thankfully, it mattered not as Town held on for three precious points, inching them closer to the teams above them.
Cobblers: Ingram, McWilliams, Taylor, Pierre, Buchanan, Poole, Grimes, O’Toole (Bowditch 78), Powell, Hoskins (Waters 86), Long (Richards 75)
Subs not used: Cornell, Smith, Kasim, McGugan, Bowditch
Blackpool: Allsop, Mellor, Aimson, Longstaff (Solomon-Otabor 58), Spearing (c), Tilt, Turton, Daniel (Taylor 15), Cooke, Delfouneso,Gnanduillet (Philliskirk 45)
Subs not used: Williams, D’Almeida, Anderton, Philliskirk, Quigley
Referee: John Busby
Blackpool fans: 371