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Cobblers put squeeze on the Tangerines

Northampton Town 1- Blackpool 0

Northampton secured back to back victories by beating Blackpool in a tight contest at Sixfields on Saturday. Cobblers are now on the cusp of escaping the relegation zone after a Sam Hoskins’ flick earned Town a 1-0 win over
Gary Bowyer’s Tangerines.

In a cagey affair that couldn’t have been more cagier if it had been played in a locked safe on the set of TV programme the Cube, Cobblers did enough to emerge rightful winners. Indeed, the match took a while to get going on a mild October afternoon with ex Aston Villa striker Nathan Delfouneso looking to latch on to through balls from Blackpool’s three man central midfield. Chris Long, meanwhile, toiled to do likewise up top for Town in a 4-4-2 formation that saw John-Joe O’Toole in an advanced supporting role .

Town wonderkid Shaun McWilliams started at right-back with Brendan Moloney injured and the Kings Heath youngster put in an assured performance from the off. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has a wealth of talent at his disposal and mobile forward Hoskins flicked a scuffed Grimes shot past a despairing Ryan Alsop on 21 minutes.

Cobblers looked composed in defence, with movement out wide yet lacked bite in central midfield with the Rottweiler McWilliams shackled at full-back. This gave Blackpool plenty of scope to surge through central areas but
the visitors lacked a killer instinct in front of goal.

After the game, Tangerines chief Bowyer called his side’s performance ‘embarrassing’ but the powerful away side did little wrong in reality. Indeed, Blackpool could have had an equaliser on 53 minutes when Aaron Pierre headed
off the line for the Cobblers.

Yet, the squat Hoskins should have put the match to bed with a cup of cocoa with ten to play when fed by Matt Grimes for a free-hit that squeaked agonisingly wide. Over at Chesham, crack youth marksman Joe Iaciofano was in
the process of netting a hat-trick which will present Hasselbaink questions over his best finishers, a good problem to have.

That makes it a promising 7 points from 9 in the past trio of matches and with the likes of Matt Crooks returning soon, Town could be really ready to motor.

Man of the Match: Shaun McWilliams

Standout players: Matt Grimes, Ash Taylor.

Player Focus: Shaun McWilliams by @phil_garlick

19 year-old central midfielder Shaun McWilliams had a terrible start to the season. Coming on as a sub in the first game, he immediately lost possession allowing Fleetwood to break and score the game’s only goal. Since then both player and manager have kept faith in his ability. Having sliced Portsmouth open with a precision pass for Long to convert, he was roughed up and sidelined with a gash on his foot. He now finds himself filling in at right-back but as we know, nothing
seems to bother our Shaun: he’s one of our own, he plays where he wants.

Yesterday he put in a man of the match performance alongside the immaculate Ash Taylor. Unlike Moloney and Phillips, he rarely ventured down the wing although he did cut inside and play a couple more of those defence splitting through balls. When called to defend he was rarely rattled. Neither former Villa and England age group prospect Delfouneso nor the pacey double-barrelled second-half substitute gave him much bother. No doubt Premiership scouts will be flocking to Sixfields
with a view to improving their Checkatrade squads but as a fan I’m hoping he gets to realise his potential playing each week for the Cobblers.

Player Focus: Daniel Powell by Luke Thoday

After Powell’s outstanding performance against Gillingham the Cobblers winger seemed to have gained confidence as in the first 5 minutes he managed to win the ball in the Blackpool
half before running the channel and having a shot into the side netting, Powell had patches of excellence throughout the game, popping up here and there, carrying the ball but had a quiet first half in supporting Buchanan defend against the Blackpool wide
men.

Going into the second period, Powell livened up, doing some excellent work on the wing, linking up with Grimes and McWilliams. He really worked to help the defence even if he got too big for his boots at one stage when he
tried to take it past the Blackpool player in his own box but was saved his blushes as Buchanan managed to scramble the ball away,

Near the end of the game Powell really shone by carrying the ball down the wing after Blackpool attacks and even being part of a lovely move which should have seen Hoskins finish.

Even though Powell didn’t have an amazing game you can see the improvement starting to come from the winger. Hopefully as the season progresses so will Powell and after a slow start I can see him only getting better under
JFH.

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