Out-of-sorts Cobblers slump to dismal defeat against Sutton United
Northampton Town 0 Sutton United 2
Error-strewn Cobblers delivered by far and away their worst performance of the season to hand Sutton United a first ever away victory in the EFL at a rain-soaked Sixfields on Saturday.
Town clearly missed the presence of key man Jon Guthrie, who was ruled out after testing positive for COVID, and their makeshift back-line struggled to cope with Sutton's direct but effective style of football.
But Guthrie's absence did not account for the amount of basic individual errors by Northampton players and their total lack of attacking threat. The home side failed to register a single shot on target.
Cobblers were sloppy and out-of-sorts from the word go and a poor opening 45 minutes closed with Joe Kizzi heading United into a thoroughly deserved one-goal lead.
Most around Sixfields would have hoped for a big improvement after half-time but the game was virtually done and dusted just 25 seconds into the second period when Donovan Wilson thundered in a second.
Town failed to muster a response and were fortunate the scoreline was not more one-sided as Sutton continued to dominate and create chances.
Town were dealt a major blow before a ball had even been kicked with the news that Guthrie was out with COVID. Nicke Kabamba and Mitch Pinnock came into the team as Aaron McGowan shifted across to centre-back and Shaun McWilliams started at right-back.
Sutton looked to seize on any early hesitancy in Town's reshuffled defence and they were first to threaten, Wilson's drive from an acute angle drawing Liam Roberts into action.
Much of the opening 45 minutes reflected the conditions, drab and dreary, and Cobblers were particularly sloppy as Sutton carried the greater threat.
The game's first big chance fell their way on 25 minutes when Wilson powered his header wide, and another similar opportunity presented itself for Richie Bennett five minutes later but he was thwarted by Roberts' smart reactions.
Town had barely featured as an attacking force and even when a rare chance did come, Danny Rose snatched at the shot and failed to hit the target.
The hosts at least looked like they would reach half-time on level terms but it was not to be as Enzio Boldewijn's wicked corner was glanced in by Kizzi four minutes before the break.
And it got worse just 30 seconds into the second-half when Town's defence was cut apart with alarming ease. Bennett found space between the lines and with the home side's offside trap malfunctioning, he slipped through Wilson who applied an emphatic finish.
Sutton put four past Carlisle United last time out and they looked capable of doing the same here with Boldewijn tricking his way into the box and firing narrowly wide.
Jon Brady made changes, both in personnel and tactically, but Sutton continued to be the dominant team. Cobblers needed Roberts to foil Alistair Smith and Wilson in quick succession before he stuck out a brilliant leg from Boldewijn's low shot late on.
Despite his best efforts though, Northampton slumped to defeat, one they could have few complaints with.
Cobblers: Roberts, McGowan, Horsfall (c), Koiki, McWilliams (Etete 56), Hoskins, Lewis, Sowerby (Flores 65), Pinnock, Rose, Kabamba (Harriman 74)
Subs not used: Maxted, Dyche, Pollock, Ashley-Seal
Sutton: Bouzanis, Goodliffe, John, Ajiboye (Beautyman 90), Eastmond (c), Boldewijn, Kizzi, Milsom, Wilson (Randall 89), Bennett (Bugiel 67), Smith
Subs not used: Wyatt, Rowe, Korboa, Palmer
Referee: Rebecca Welch
Sutton fans: 224