Pressure grows on boss Hasselbaink as Cobblers are humiliated by Charlton at Sixfields
Cobblers' desperate season took another turn for the worse on Good Friday when they plunged deeper into the relegation mire with an abject 4-0 thumping against Charlton Athletic after a frankly woeful performance at a rain-soaked Sixfields.
If anything, the final 4-0 scoreline is a kind reflection on Northampton, who were outplayed in every possible department by an Addicks team hardly in great form themselves having come into this one on a back of two wins in nine matches.
Once again the opening 45 minutes failed to produce anything to give home supporters a reason to cheer with their side lucky not to be further than two goals behind at the break.
It was just the latest seriously below-par half of football from the Cobblers who failed to create a single meaningful chance in attack while also being found wanting defensively, with Ben Reeves and Toriqe Fosu handing the visitors a comfortable advantage.
Northampton's sixth home game without victory was then confirmed by Fosu who ran rings around the outclassed home side for the entire 80 minutes he was on the pitch.
Josh Magennis' header inflicted another dose of late misery on the Cobblers, and only a miraculous turnaround will surely save Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and his team this season, although amazingly they still remain just two points from safety going into Monday's derby at Peterborough.
Already under pressure, Hasselbaink's position will now come in for further scrutiny following this defeat, which extended their winless run to eight games.
David Buchanan was a surprise inclusion in Hasselbaink's team selection for the visit of Charlton as he captained the side on his first start in nearly three months, while Matt Crooks, back from suspension, and fit-again Chris Long also came in.
Out went Joe Bunney, Hildeberto Pereira and Boris Mathis, and playing a 3-5-2 for the third successive game, Town made what seemed to be a steady start in a cagey opening 10 minutes.
But that did not last and by the 20-minute mark, they were two goals down and facing yet another uphill struggle with the game threatening to turn ugly, both on the pitch and in the stands where upset fans let their feelings known.
Charlton's two goals, while nicely taken, were too simple and too easy from Town's perspective, the first coming on 14 minutes when Lewis Page, afforded too much space on the left-wing, sent in a delicious cross and Reeves out-muscled his marker to nod home, despite a spectacular effort from Richard O'Donnell.
And it went from bad to worse just five minutes later as Fosu strode through the middle of the pitch. riding a couple of weak challenges in the process, before placing a precise shot into the bottom corner, out of the reach of O'Donnell.
Matt Grimes sent an attempt wide for Northampton in-between those goals but Charlton remained the dominant team and continued to outplay their hosts, with Buchanan's crucial block on Jake Forster-Caskey preventing a certain third before Nicky Ajose's deflected effort dropped narrowly wide.
Charlton were consistently finding space to break on the Cobblers, who were miles off the pace and fortunate not to be further behind.
Needing to change something, Hasselbaink replaced Brendan Moloney with Gboly Ariyibi before half-time and changed to 4-4-2 in the process but his side remained without a single chance in the opening 45 minutes.
Boos greeted the half-time whistle and there was further signs of alarm at the start of the second period when O'Donnell was called upon to beat away Forster-Caskey's powerful drive.
But Charlton did not have to wait long to add their third, just three minutes in fact, and again Fosu was Town's tormentor-in-chief. He bypassed the latest weak attempt at a tackle and drove into space before drilling into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
McWilliams was then replaced by Hassselbaink, a move that prompted further consternation among supporters in the West Stand with some fans venting their anger in the direction of of the Town manager.
With 64 minutes on the clock, his side threatened Ben Amos in the away goal for the very first time but Grimes' 25-yard drive was straight at Charlton's goalkeeper.
The visitors sprang back up the other end and would have had a fourth if not for the heroics of O'Donnell, who produced a terrific low save from Forster-Caskey after Joe Aribo had seen his effort blocked.
There were still almost 20 minutes remaining at this point but the game was well and truly up, although Charlton still wanted more and Magennis obliged, heading Reeves' cross home with 10 minutes to go.
That was that, with another chorus of boos ringing out at the full-time whistle.
Cobblers: O'Donnell, Moloney (Aryibi 40), Taylor, Turnbull, Facey, Buchanan (c), McWilliams (Pereira 52), Grimes, Crooks, van Veen (Mathis 68), Long
Subs not used: Cornell, Barnett, Bunney, Hoskins
Charlton: Amos, Page, Bauer, Pearce (c), Reeves, Fosu (Kaikai 80), Aribo, Forster-Caskey, Zyro (Magennis 67), Dijksteel, Ajose (Mavididi 63)
Subs not used: Marshall, Phillips, Konsa, Sarr
Referee: Gavin Ward
Charlton fans: 1,208