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Cobblers victory extends advantage at top of League Two

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On a cold Tuesday evening, 3rd placed Oxford United welcomed league leaders Northampton to the Kassam Stadium in what was set to be a bumper game.

Just under 10,000 fans were at the game in which Chris Wilder’s Cobblers won 1-0, making it eight wins in succession and moving eight points clear of 2nd placed Plymouth.


Oxford United 0-1 Northampton Town

From the off, these two promotion chasing sides signaled their intents. The U’s, who had a decent away win at Morecambe on Saturday, began explosively, and only Danny Hylton was denied the opener inside the first minute after his header was saved by Adam Smith.

The hosts created another early opportunity; a free-flowing move, in which the U’s passed the ball gracefully, ended up with forward Jordan Bowery, but his effort sailed over the bar from only eight yards out.

Bowery, who netted in the 4-2 win at Morecambe, was then contained by a resilient Cobblers defence, and the U’s struggled to create many more opportunities in the opening exchanges.

Then, in-form Cobblers forward James Collins, on loan from Shrewsbury and who was a potential transfer target for the U’s, saw his effort saved by Benji Büchel, before the goalkeeper saw a later effort from the same forward sail over.

John Lundstram and Liam Sercombe were strong in midfield, and managed to contain the Cobblers attacker’s, while at the other end, Kemar Roofe’s clever flick was off target, before Cobblers defender Zander Diamond saw his headed effort sail off target and Marc Richards saw his glancing header saved by Büchel as the sides headed into the break level following a feisty and energetic first half.

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The second half began like the first; explosive. Collins forced Büchel into another save, before midfielder John-Joe O’Toole saw his header hit the woodwork.

But then, the games decisive factor. Northampton, in controversial circumstances, were awarded a penalty after Johnny Mullins appeared to handle the ball in the box following Richards’s clever cross back across goal. It looked to have hit his side rather than his arm, but referee Keith Hill awarded the Cobblers the spot kick. Richards stepped up and duly delivered the games opening goal, smashing the ball home.

The visitors were now in the ascendancy, but the U’s pressed for the equaliser, and were unlucky shortly after when Chris Maguire saw his effort strike the post with Smith beaten, before Bowery saw his tame effort easily gathered by the goalkeeper.
Hylton assisted Sercombe soon after, but his effort rolled wide, before Lundstram wasted two more opportunities, before Sercombe again failed to test Smith in the Cobblers goal.
Defensively, Northampton were sound and contained Oxford with relative ease, hitting the U’s on the counter attack when trying to find a killer second goal. But as Northampton have done for much of this season, they held firm and recorded an incredible eighth successive victory.
As I said at the top of this article, Chris Wilder’s side have an eight point lead over Plymouth, and a twelve point advantage over Oxford following the win. The Cobblers, who are certainly promotion favourites following the result, and find themselves eighteen points above the playoffs. As for Oxford, they find themselves six points clear of the playoffs, and have a crucial clash with fellow promotion chasers Accrington at the weekend.
In the evening’s other matches, Accrington were held at home against Carlisle in a 1-1 draw, Hartlepool came from two goals down at home to level with Notts County, only for the Magpies to score a late winner, and York made it back to back wins with a 2-0 victory over Exeter City.
Cobblers Marc richards U's

About Dale Ventham

Dale Ventham is an editor at The Sports Lowdown. He writes on the lower leagues of English football and Speedway in particular.

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