Plucky Morecambe came to Sixfields like a university side full of optimism and flair but were hurled into a garage door by League 2 Terminators Northampton. Morecambe boss Derek Adams was relieved of three points as well as his boots, his clothes and his motorcycle despite his side playing most of the football.
The dance track “Pump It Up” has become the anthem to Northampton’s season in more ways the one with Cobblers setting the tone for an ugly yet effective win early on via Charlie Goode punts towards heat-seeking forward Vadaine Oliver. Rumour has it hot air ballon flights are banned over Sixfields in fear of Cobblers long balls bashing their baskets but Town won’t care a jot because they are also reaching the heights in the league table, 6th after this win and 2 points of the autos.
Morecambe boss Derek Adams will be flummoxed by Town’s opener on 28 minutes in more ways than one. The Shrimps had controlled most of the meaningful possession via their standout Spaniard Carlos Mendes Gomes who has arrived at Morecambe via Athletic Madrid’s youth team and then West Didsbury and Chorlton, as you do. Gomes was able to remind those in attendance the sport they had paid to attend by getting his foot on the ball and executing a couple of Cruyff turns and the kind of fancy play that probably has Keith Curle hyperventilating in between shouting “squeeze” from the touchline at a volume that can be heard in Birmingham.
Yet all the fancy stuff like passing and moving came to nothing for Morecambe when Paul Anderson, who has just signed a new contract, saw his hopeful in-swinging cross evade everyone and slip past Mark Halstead in the Shrimp’s net. The goal will have pleased Curle, not really a fan of messing about and why bother with a striker having the finishing touch when a midfielder can just cross the ball into the goal?
The strike woke up the Sixfields crowd that had made a morgue seem like a night out in Ritzy’s till that point with Adams calling the stadium “Deadfields” in a post-match quip, adding weight to the Cobblers fans calling for safe standing to get an atmosphere going.
Morecambe had a good chance of their own before half-time as Jordan Slew made space for a left-sided cross that Alex Kenyon somehow failed to head home from 5 yards out. Cobblers added a second on the cusp of half time as an Anderson shot on the angle was flicked home by Ryan Watson. There was no way that Town were worthy of a two-goal lead at the break but in a strange way they were, being in such undeniable form.
Nicky Adams, Cobblers’ chief torturer stepped up 10 minutes after the restart to score a third, pouncing on a Chris Lines cross that he is normally the instigator of. Morecambe were well on the way to join the likes of Crewe, who could genuinely argue to have played the better football but gone home on the end of a whooping.
It was fair though that Morecambe should get one back in reply and that they did on 64 minutes via some patient build up play and switching of the ball before Burnley loanee Adam Phillips was able to slot home after a Cole Stockton cross shot was parried into his path.
Then came the killer goal for Town, a giant piss-take of a 4th wrapped up in a superlative Lines penalty box volley that a team playing a world gurning championship level of ugly football had no right to execute. But this is what Town do so well, mixing a style that is industrial as the Corby steelworks circa 1970 with the odd bit of audacious skill. Lines took a plum Adams cross first time and caressed it into the North Stand net from 15 yards.
League 2 is a terrible competition this season if Town can play the sort of distilled hoof-ball they do and come away smashing a fairly decent football side like Morecambe by 3 goal margins. Yet, these chilly January games are soon forgotten when May sunshine comes and the real promotion picture emerges. Men are from Mars and Cobblers play lands on Jupiter but Northampton fans just love a promotion season and you get the feeling that Keith Curle could deliver one. Just the small matter of an FA Cup 5th Round tie V Derby on Friday night though. They’ll be back.
Man Of The Match: Mendes Gomes (Morecambe)
Sam Hoskins player focus by William Oelrich
With Hoskins scoring in the last two consecutive games for the Cobblers, the 26 year-old kept his place in an unchanged eleven against League two strugglers Morecambe with him and Nicky Adams remaining at wing-back, hoping to add to their goals and assist tallies.
Of the last ten goals scored by the Cobblers, four have been assisted by Sam Hoskins and five by Nicky Adams so the two were on fire and definitely a major threat to Morecambe. Hoskins scored the equaliser against mid-table Salford City the week before, striking a shot into the bottom left corner and could have added more throughout that game.
Hoskins’ attacking ability was not utilized in the opening minutes as Morecambe were the stronger side and it was Hoskins’ defence abilities that kept the game level as Morecambe set up looking to play for a draw but the early stages may have changed otherwise.
The ‘hoof-ball’ tactic of Curle proved worthy again as the Cobblers were two up at the break with Paul Anderson scoring his first and Watson claiming the other.
The game was won late on as Adams scored the third and then Lines with a screamer to put the game to bed at 4-1. Sam Hoskins’ pace is known around League Two and he was able to use it throughout the game, especially the end with Morecambe legs tiring but Hoskins couldn’t beat Halstead in the Morecambe net.
Sam did have a quiet game in the 4-1 win down the flank but did earn Cobblers some corners. Overall, Hoskins had a ‘off day’ it the terms of goals and assists but still put a shift in and should remain in the squad for Town’s upcoming matches, not least the FA Cup clash with Wayne Rooney’s Derby.