Northampton Town powered into FA Cup Round 3 with a hat-trick of headers to dismiss Notts County on Sunday. County are the oldest professional club in the world but centre-back Scott Wharton gave Cobblers a young lead on 3 minutes. Whar-ton huh, what is he good for? Scoring back stick-headers. The Blackburn loanee in Northampton claret nodded home a textbook Nicky Adams in-swinging corner to begin Northampton’s leap over the Notts banana skin.
County boss Neal Ardley was unhappy that Wharton slipped free to punish his side but in truth defending Northampton is like herding cats and they are always liable to scratch your face off.
Ardley had his County side playing some good patient football but will join the managers of Grimsby and Crewe, who Cobblers have also beaten recently, in scratching his head at how playing better football doesn’t mean beating Town.
Brazil 1970 it aint but Keith Curle’s Northampton are deadly effective.
Holding midfielder Alan McCormack sits in midfield, an Irish devil of dictating play and shifting it quickly out to Northampton’s wide attacking midfielders. Man Of The Match Sam Hoskins, really coming into his own now, eats territory for fun with ball to feet while you’ll struggle to find a better crosser of the ball in English football that Nicky Adams. From then on in its balls into the box for Northampton’s imposing forward line of Andy Williams and Vadaine Oliver to thunder into the net.
You’re Vadaine, you probably think this song is about you. Northampton’s Oliver wanted more after last week’s goal V Grimsby and puffed out his chest against former club County after nodding home a Hoskins right-wing cross. It was great wing-work from Hoskins, caressing the ball with his right before chipping over a pin-point southpaw cross with Oliver locking on and dominating the box. Kudos for Curle for reinvigorating Oliver into one of the best target-men in League 2, the free-transfer signing looks a money-ball acquisition and a half.
Cobblers had scored early doors to assert themselves on the game, then on 25 minutes via Oliver with Northampton’s game about applying gradual pressure until their opponents pop. The team in black and white had been playing chess where Northampton were all kings in draughts, aiming to knock them off the board.
Notts County had their own second-half chances through Enzio Boldewijn, the e- FC Utrecht midfielder who sent a cute long ranger into the side netting & then a Wes Thomas free-header from a Mitch Rose long throw but they couldn’t register when it mattered.
Thomas skied his header but was shown how it is done by Northampton substitute Harry Smith on 76 minutes. The lofty Smith loomed over a flailing Sam Slocombe in the County net to head home a mortar shell of a looping cross from Hoskins.
Town enveloped their opponents like the early December cold that wrapped Sixfields but Northampton digits were kept warm through applause for their team. Notts County had enjoyed 58% of possession but Town dominated where it counted and went through as deserved winners. County got a late consolation through a Kristian Dennis tap in but it was too tardy to make any difference.
Cobblers showed they will take on all comers and knock them about with a mix of power and the odd bit of skill. They’ll kiss you on the cheek after hitting you over the head as evidenced with an over-head kick from Hoskins brimming with confidence.
There’s the potential for one of the big boys in the next round but Northampton will present a sizeable challenge themselves in this uncompromising mood.
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