Sowerby stunner sinks Crawley as 10-man Cobblers battle to precious victory

Action from the Cobblers' 1-0 win over Crawley Town at Sixfields (Picture: Pete Norton)Action from the Cobblers' 1-0 win over Crawley Town at Sixfields (Picture: Pete Norton)
Action from the Cobblers' 1-0 win over Crawley Town at Sixfields (Picture: Pete Norton)
Jack Sowerby scored an outrageous winner as 10-man Cobblers picked up three hard-fought but priceless points with victory against struggling Crawley Town in an ill-tempered affair at Sixfields on Saturday.

Town were utterly dominant in the first-half but had no goal to show for their superiority as a flurry of chances came and went and Crawley somehow got into the break on level terms.

The second-half was more bitty but things boiled over with 20 minutes to play as players and coaches clashed on both sides before Aaron McGowan controversially saw red for an off-the-ball incident with Jack Roles.

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That was a setback for the Cobblers but they dug deep and snatched victory in memorable fashion, Sowerby watching a high ball all the way onto his foot before unleashing an unstoppable 20-yard volley which whistled into the top corner.

That was enough to secure a vital victory and the spirited, contentious manner of it might just be the spark Northampton need to get their season back on track.

Goalkeeper Lee Burge was recalled for his first start in nearly two months at the expense of the unfortunate Tom King and Josh Eppiah replaced Will Hondermarck in the only other change from Tuesday’s draw at Harrogate.

Cobblers squandered two golden opportunities in the first 90 seconds as Mitch Pinnock shot tamely into the legs of goalkeeper Corey Addai when all alone inside the penalty box before Louis Appéré failed to get a shot away after going through on goal.

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That set the tone for a dominant but frustrating first-half for the hosts and Sam Hoskins was the next one guilty of poor finishing when denied by Addai after getting the wrong side of Crawley’s defence, the third big chance to go begging in the opening four minutes.

Whilst things did then settle down, Town remained dominant throughout the first 45 minutes and continued to threaten down both sides but still the opening goal would not come.

The lively Eppiah had a shot deflected wide, Jon Guthrie’s close-range volley was straight at Addai, and the best chance before half-time fell to Appéré when he met Ali Koiki’s fizzed cross just yards out but, on the stretch, he poked over the crossbar.

Somehow it was goalless at the break and Brady’s frustrations would only have grown during the interval when Koiki had to go off due to an injury picked up in the first-half. Harvey Lintott came on and McGowan moved to left-back.

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There was not the same snap to Town’s play at the start of the second half and within a minute of the restart Crawley created their first chance of the game, Dom Telford volleying over from inside the penalty box.

The game turned bitty, which suited Crawley, and Cobblers lost their momentum from the first-half, and even when they did get into the final third, they continued to be thwarted as a goalmouth scramble from Lintott’s low cross somehow stayed out.

It all then kicked off with 20 minutes to play.

Hoskins was booked for pushing a Crawley player into the advertising hoardings and that sparked clashes between players and coaches.

Things seemed to have settled down when Jack Roles theatrically fell to the ground after an off the ball involving McGowan.

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Referee Ross Joyce consulted with his linesman and showed McGowan a straight red card despite footage showing minimal contact between the two.

The defender’s incredulous reaction told the story, but Town responded in the best way possible.

They won a corner on the left and Marc Leonard’s delivery was only half cleared to the edge of the box where Sowerby let fly with a spectacular 20-yard volley that whistled into the top corner.

Cobblers had 11 minutes plus a healthy dose of stoppage-time to hold on and there were a few scares during that time but they ground out the win to keep pace at the top of League Two.

Match facts

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Cobblers: Burge, McGowan, Sherring, Guthrie ©, Koiki (Lintott 45), Sowerby (Yengi 90), Leonard, Pinnock, Hoskins (Hondermarck 89), Eppiah (Haynes 75), Appéré

Subs not used: King, Dyche, Wright-Phillips

Crawley: Addai, Gordon, Conroy, Lynch, Powell, Mason (Ogungbo 90), Johnson (Francillette 78), Oteh, Fellows (Roles 67), Nadesan, Telford © (Mutch 67)

Subs not used: Schofield, Khalell, Spong

Referee: Ross Joyce

Attendance: 5,450

Crawley fans: 158