Ten-man Cobblers dig deep to see off Colchester and make it three wins from tree

Colchester United 0 Northampton Town 1

By James Heneghan
Saturday, 14th August 2021, 5:47 pm
Jon Guthrie scores his first Cobblers goal, poking in at the second time of asking after his initial header was saved. Picture: Pete Norton.
Jon Guthrie scores his first Cobblers goal, poking in at the second time of asking after his initial header was saved. Picture: Pete Norton.

Cobblers maintained their perfect start to the new season with the hardest of hard-fought 1-0 wins away at Colchester United on Saturday afternoon.

Jon Guthrie's first-half header handed Town the lead but they had to dig extremely deep in the second 45 minutes, surviving Fraser Horsfall's red card, to make it successive 1-0 wins in the league.

The first-half was a case of one chance, one goal as Guthrie's header from a free-kick - his first goal for the club - handed Town a slender advantage going into the break.

The second period was a lot more open and frantic as both sides missed chances, but despite Horsfall comically seeing red late on, the hosts were kept at bay by a resolute, batting defensive effort, led by the magnificent Shaun McWilliams in midfield and backed up by the faultless Liam Roberts between the posts.

Cobblers have and will play better but this sort of gutsy, dogged victory should stand them in good stead for the remainder of the season. They now have six points out of six, placing them fourth in the - very early - League Two standings.

Jon Brady made five changes to his starting line-up but Kion Etete, Shaun McWilliams and Sam Hoskins all kept their places after impressing in the midweek win at Coventry City.

Roberts returned in goal while Aaron McGowan, Mitch Pinnock, Nicke Kabamba and captain Joseph Mills were also all recalled.

Cobblers made the brighter start but a couple of threatening attacks did not translate into a chance on United's goal and the home side were able to get themselves a foothold in the contest.

However, the first chance brought the first goal and it was Cobblers who grabbed it midway through the half. Hoskins delivered a terrific free-kick from wide out on the left and Guthrie was left all alone to score at the second time of asking after his initial header was saved.

Led by the outstanding Shaun McWilliams, Town were workmanlike and tenacious in limiting Colchester to just one shot on target in the first-half, a long-range effort from Sylvester Jasper that was straight at Roberts.

Cobblers were so close to adding to their lead deep into first-half stoppage-time when another set-piece, this time a corner, caused more problems and Etete stuck out a leg to divert Fraser Horsfall's miscued shot towards goal, but a Colchester defender hooked off the line.

Etete had another chance a few minutes after the restart, glancing a header not far wide from Pinnock's corner, but Colchester hit back and had their first clear opportunity 10 minutes into the half, Brendan Wiredu denied by a fantastic save by Roberts.

United suddenly had the wind in their sails although Cobblers remained a threat themselves and Kabamba went close in what was now an open, stretched affair, denied only by a last-ditch block.

But Colchester were very much on top and again Roberts came to Town's rescue when standing up brilliantly to thwart substitute Freddie Sears one-on-one.

The pressure increased as Town battled away, and they were not helped by a misjudgement from Horsfall who had no choice but to handle a long ball, denying Sears a clear one-on-one opportunity.

The centre-back rightly saw red and that meant it really was all hands to the pump, but somehow the Cobblers clung on, withstanding a barrage of Colchester pressure, to register three successive wins in the first week of the season.

Colchester: George, Clampin, Chambers, Smith, Wiredu (Sears 58), Skuse, Jasper (Chilvers 80), Eastman, Coxe (Hannant 58), Judge, Nouble

Subs not used: Turner, Welch-Hayes, Kennedy, Tchamadeu

Cobblers: Roberts, McGowan, Horsfall, Guthrie, Mills (c) (Nelson 86), Lewis, McWilliams, Pinnock (Koiki 75), Hoskins, Etete (Rose 56), Kabamba

Subs not used: Maxted, Pollock, Connolly, Ashley-Seal

Referee: Trevor Kettle

Attendance: 2,772

Cobblers fans: 446