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Report: Northampton 1-0 Wycombe

20 February 2016

Wanderers were edged out at Sixfields as Northampton earned a record-breaking ninth straight win in Sky Bet League 2.

In a well-matched affair between the sides 1st and 5th in the table between kick-off, it was the Cobblers who claimed the points with a well-worked move finished off by Danny Rose in the second half.

Wycombe certainly hadn't come to 'park the bus' and played some enterprising football without finding the killer touch to find a way back into the game.

Gareth Ainsworth was dealt a blow with the news that Aaron Pierre and Paris Cowan-Hall were forced to miss the game through injury, joining the suspended Garry Thompson on the sidelines while Sido Jombati and Anthony Stewart came into the defence.

The Cobblers were without star striker Marc Richards which meant both sides kicked off with similar formations, each with one focal point of attack and a fluid midfield in behind.

Wanderers started brightly and enjoyed more of the possession in the hosts’ half, but a loose pass from Marcus Bean presented the first chance for Town to break forward before James Collins volleyed Lee Martin’s cross harmlessly wide.

Ricky Holmes then missed the target when he found a pocket of space 20 yards out, and James Collins poked past the post as he stretched in front of his man to reach another Martin cross.

A big talking point arrived on 12 minutes when Lee Martin wriggled into the box and went to ground as Marcus Bean attempted to make a sliding challenge, but the referee instead awarded a free-kick to Wycombe and showed a yellow card to the winger for alleged simulation, much to his disbelief.

The first shot on target arrived on 21 minutes when Holmes drilled straight at Allsop after a smart interchange down the left, before at the other end, Joe Jacobson’s corner was met with a looping header by Anthony Stewart but the ball sailed over.

The visitors’ best chance of the first half-hour came when Luke O’Nien did brilliantly to drill a low ball across the face of goal and with the keeper beaten, Sam Wood slid in but was unable to make contact as it flashed inches past his outstretched boot.

Ryan Allsop came to Wycombe’s rescue twice in quick succession, firstly flicking out a boot to divert Holmes’ near-post shot behind before grabbing the ball ahead of a Town attacker after James Collins had sent the ball across the goal-line.

Back came the visitors and Jason McCarthy came agonisingly close to converting Joe Jacobson’s free-kick as the centre-back peeled away from the defence and met the delivery with a first-time shot, which fizzed wide.

Danny Rose’s free-kick almost sailed unintentionally into the net before the break before Sam Wood volleyed over from 25 yards following Stephen McGinn’s lay-off, but the half ended goalless, just like nine of the Chairboys’ previous 14 away games this season.

The left boot of Jacobson provided two early openings for Wycombe in the second period, but his corner and free-kick couldn’t be turned goalwards despite the best efforts of Luke O’Nien and Marcus Bean.

Then a poor Town delivery provided Wanderers with a counter-attack which was started by a clever flick from Paul Hayes, but as Michael Harriman looked to pick out the unmarked Sam Wood to his left, the ball cannoned off the covering defender and went behind.

Northampton began to get back on top and after Holmes’ dangerous cross just evaded the onrushing James Collins, Holmes’ swerving effort from 20 yards fizzed just over the bar.

The breakthrough came on 63 minutes and it was no surprise to see Holmes at the heart of it, wriggling away from Sam Wood down the right before feeding James Collins with a low cross. The striker held it up and laid it off under pressure from Jason McCarthy, and Danny Rose was on hand to stroke the ball into the top corner, leaving Allsop with no chance.

Wycombe’s initial response was calm and measured, stroking it around well inside the Cobblers’ half, and it almost resulted in a stunning equaliser when Anthony Stewart strode forward and drilled a shot towards the bottom corner from 25 yards, requiring a fingertip save from Adam Smith to keep it out.

Substitute Lawson D’Ath curled the ball over following a Town corner before the Blues made two changes of their own, going 4-4-2 as Gozie Ugwu came on up front and Max Kretzschmar was deployed wide left.

The Town defence were looking steady enough to keep the ball away from the box despite the best intentions of the Chairboys, while the hosts always posed a threat on the break.

Ryan Sellers came off the bench as the game entered five minutes of stoppage time and got to a Jombati cross first, but the ball bounced awkwardly and looped wide with home fans' hearts in their mouths.

Wycombe: Allsop, Jombati, Jacobson, McCarthy, Stewart, Bean (Ugwu 76), McGinn, O’Nien, Harriman (Sellers 90), Wood (Kretzschmar 76), Hayes.

Unused subs: Richardson, Bloomfield.

Northampton: Smith, Moloney, Buchanan, Diamond, McDonald, O’Toole, Rose, Adams (D’Ath 72), Holmes (Taylor 81), Martin (Hoskins 86), Collins.

Unused subs: Clarke, Prosser, Cresswell, Byrom.

Referee: Mr Graham Salisbury

Attendance: 5,755 (809 away)

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