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Northampton Town made it back to back wins on Saturday 28th October, following up their away win against Gillingham with a home victory over Blackpool.
On Saturday 21st October, Northampton ended a nine-game winless streak with a crucial victory over fellow strugglers Gillingham, thanks to first Northampton goals and wonder strikes from both Daniel Powell and Matt Grimes, the latter winning the efl goal of weekend with a superbly struck freekick.
For this game, Northampton Town were boosted by the return of John-Joe O’Toole to the starting XI, who impressed coming on as a sub against Rochdale. Northampton were without a specialist right back however, with 18-year-old central midfielder Shaun McWilliams having an ‘outstanding’ performance filling in for the absent Brendan Moloney.
Despite victory over Gillingham, Northampton remained in the bottom three, however feelings and spirts were lifted with the ending of the winless streak. Manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink stated that this should be the turning point of the season, and that results will begin to pick up.
A perfect opportunity for back to back wins arose with a home tie against Blackpool, who arrived at Sixfields on the back of a 3-1 home defeat to Wigan. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink named an unchanged line-up for the first time since his first two games as manager back in September, as it seems after all chopping and changing he may have finally discovered a winning formula. This meant there was no place for forward Alex Revell, who completed his three-match suspension but wasn’t even named amongst the substitutes.
The game, kicking off at 2pm to avoid traffic collisions with rugby fans watching Northampton Saints, had an explosive start with chances at either end, firstly Daniel Powell breaking through the defence but shooting straight at Ryan Allsop in the Blackpool goal. Straight up the other end Blackpool had a chance to open the scoring through Armand Gnanduillet, who robbed Northampton goalkeeper Matt Ingram, only to find the side netting from a tight angle instead of squaring to a better positioned Delfouneso.
The first half featured very few chances, however Northampton were probably the better side, with Matt Grimes slowly beginning to pull the strings in midfield and Sam Hoskins looking a threat on the right-hand side. It was this combination which led to Northampton’s opener in the 21st minute, with Matt Grimes’ pot-shot from about 35 yards looking as though it was sailing harmlessly wide, however a great piece of improvisation from Sam Hoskins flicked the ball goal-bound and past Allsop in the net.
This was the 750th league goal that Northampton have scored at Sixfields, so Sam Hoskins has made himself a permanent fixture in the Northampton history books.
Blackpool slowly began to grow into the game but could muster up very few chances, and Northampton went into the half-time break 1-0 up.
A change of system for Blackpool at half-time saw Danny Philliskirk replace Gnanduillet in the second half, and Blackpool began to create a couple of half-chances as a result, however never really troubled Matt Ingram. Arguably Blackpool should have equalised though, when Matt Ingram got caught out for a second time, and Callum Cooke’s goal-bound effort had to headed off the line by the retracting Aaron Pierre.
It was a game of very few chances, but Northampton had a glorious chance to wrap it up, when the impressive Matt Grimes slipped in Sam Hoskins, who was one on one with the goalkeeper but fired his effort agonisingly wide of the far post. Luckily it didn’t come back to haunt the cobblers, who deserved held on for all three points in a productive and disciplined performance.
Another moment of history was made in the game, when Northampton skipper Marc Richards came on for his 200th appearance in the famous Northampton claret.
There was plenty of positives for Hasselbaink to take from the game, such as the disciplined and togetherness manner of the performance, a stark contrast from the 6-0 hammering received just a few weeks prior. Furthermore, the front three of Hoskins, Powell and Chris Long are starting to look lively, quick and a real handful for the opposition, and the midfield partnership of Matt Grimes and Regan Poole is beginning to look formidable. With Matt Crooks returning to training, John-Joe O’Toole back in the starting line-up and Lewis McGugan nearing match fitness, Hasselbaink is starting to get his squad back together, and they appear to be hitting form at just the right time as well.
Once again, the defence looked strong, with Ash Taylor and Aaron Pierre looking like a solid partnership, and the standout performance came from young Shaun McWilliams, who again deputised at right back effectively and will be gaining plenty of admirers with composed and assured performances like this.
With other sides at the bottom of the table, such as Gillingham and Doncaster recording victories, 3 points were essential for Northampton. Although it wasn’t a vintage game or performance, to get over the line and record another three points was vital for Northampton. A home tie to Scunthorpe United in the FA cup is up next, and this gives Hasselbaink a selection headache, as this XI have back to back victories and are beginning to gel, however squad players such as George Smith, Lewis McGugan, Billy Waters and Alex Revell will be desperate to get back out on the pitch, so it remains to be seen what will happen.
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