Six of the best as Cobblers sail through in FA Cup
Cobblers safely secured their place in round two of the FA Cup when they cruised to a 6-0 victory over a spirited Harrow Borough side in Saturday's tie at Sixfields.
This could have been a tricky afternoon for Northampton, especially with the experience of Northwich Victoria still fresh in the memory, but from the moment of Paul Anderson's superb strike on six minutes, there was never any doubt over the outcome.
Marc Richards poked home a second five minutes later and that perhaps caused an element of complacency to creep into the home side's game as they rather took their foot off the pedal and allowed Harrow to at least hold their own for the rest of the first-half.
The visitors didn't overly threaten despite their best endeavors, however, and a dominant second-half display saw the Cobblers run away with victory.
Richards notched his second and Town's third shortly after the restart before John-Joe O'Toole, Matty Taylor and then JJ Hooper capped off an excellent afternoon's work and sent the non-league side packing.
Harrow played with a refreshing sense of enterprise and not once did they lack in effort or commitment, but the gulf in class was evident for much of the afternoon and shone through in the final scoreline.
Cobblers now take their place in Monday's second round draw where they will be ball number 12.
Rob Page stuck to his word and showed plenty of respect to both the competition and Northampton's Ryman League visitors by going full-strength and naming an unchanged team from the win over Bury seven days earlier.
Having swapped ends prior to kick-off, Cobblers faced a strong headwind in the first-half and Harrow used that to their early advantage as the visitors made a purposeful, confident start.
That was reflected in the fact that they had the game's first opportunity when a whipped in corner flashed across the face of goal and only needed a touch from one of the several Harrow players lurking to divert goalwards.
No touch was forthcoming, though, and with their very first attack of the game, Northampton struck first with a moment of real quality.
After Harrow could only partially clear Brendan Moloney's low cross, the ball fell kindly to the onrushing Anderson who, from 18 yards, unleashed a first-time shot that arrowed into the top corner.
That settled any early nerves there might have been, and one soon became two when Richards poked home David Buchanan's delightful left-wing cross.
With only 11 minutes played, hopes of an FA Cup shock at Sixfields already looked slim and Harrow should have found themselves further behind barely three minutes later when Zander Diamond somehow spooned over from just yards out.
Northampton were threatening to run riot at that point but they then eased off the accelerator somewhat as Harrow, to their credit, refused to roll over and continued to play without fear as they attacked in numbers.
Their efforts were nearly rewarded too but Gabriel Zakuani threw his body at a goalbound shot to block.
Richards miscued a half-volley from close-range at the other end, but Harrow were the team on top prior to half-time and Adam Smith saw his first piece of action five minutes before the interval when skipper Marc Charles-Smith shrugged off Diamond to get clear of the home defence, but his weak shot was comfortable for the Town keeper.
Harrow were not afraid to take the game to their higher-ranked hosts but unable to claw a goal back, Northampton's superior quality eventually told in a rampant second-half that yielded chances aplenty.
They put the game to bed once and for all early on when O'Toole, on as a sub for the injured Jak McCourt, worked space for himself on the left and sent in a well-guided cross that was headed home by an unmarked Richards at the back post.
Cobblers twice came close to immediately extending their lead as OToole headed wide from under the crossbar before the once again excellent Sam Hoskins scuffed a volley narrowly off target.
The second-half became a case of how many Northampton wanted to score and after Hoskins curled a fine 25-yarder off the crossbar, O'Toole got in on the act when heading home from close-range.
There was still time left for Thomas Williams to produce an excellent flying save to prevent Matty Taylor from adding to his collection of free-kicks, while the Harrow goalkeeper also denied O'Toole.
Taylor was not to be denied, however, as a second free-kick from a similar position curled around the wall and into the bottom corner, putting the seal on a job thoroughly well done.
JJ Hooper was denied twice in the closing minutes but he too was not to be denied, converting Alex Revell's low cross in stoppage time to wrap up a convincing victory.
Cobblers: Smith, Moloney, Diamond, Zakuani, Buchanan, McCourt (O'Toole 47), Taylor, Hoskins, Anderson (Potter 81), Hooper, Richards (c) (Revell 66)
Subs not used: Cornell, Nyatanga, Beautyman, Gorre
Harrow: Williams, Ochoa, Josh Webb, Peacock, Preddie, Nicholas, Bryon, Joshua Webb, Charles-Smith (c) (Turl 74), Driver (Babalola 74), Newman (Meite 60)
Subs not used: Holland, Brown, Taylor, McLeod
Referee: Ross Joyce
Harrow fans: 371