Cobblers clinch stunning win at Shrewsbury

Chris Hackett is congratulated after his early goal at Shrewsbury (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Chris Hackett is congratulated after his early goal at Shrewsbury (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

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The Cobblers became the first league two team to beat Shrewsbury on their own ground this season as they recorded an excellent and fully-deserved 2-1 victory at New Meadow.

Chelsea are the only other team to win in Shrewsbury during the current campaign but this was a match Northampton never looked like losing.

Chris Hackett gave them the lead after 20 minutes and Joel Byrom doubled it with a copybook free-kick routine which was played out to perfection.

The Shrews mounted a late fightback with a Mickey Demetriou header seven minutes from time and although they piled forward in the game’s final stages, the visiting defence was equal to the task.

Town stay 10th in Sky Bet League Two but the gap to the top seven has shrunk to six points and this win will give them the encouragement that they can compete with the best sides the division has to offer.

Ivan Toney was given the chance to start as the team’s centre-forward with Marc Richards unavailable due to a sore Achilles but it was Ricky Holmes who had the first sight of goal, skidding a shot well wide after doing well to find space 25 yards from goal.

Lawson D’Ath produced a good effort on 10 minutes after a break down the left, although his shot was deflected away for a corner which Joel Byrom totally overcooked.

Former Cobblers loanee Scott Vernon then volleyed over the bar after Ryan Woods had charged down an Evan Horwood clearance and cut a cross back to the edge of the box.

He perhaps had more time to fashion a shot than he realised but Hackett’s shot was just as instant, a sweet and instinctive right-footed finish from the edge of the box which looked a goal from the moment it left his boot.

Credit must go to D’Ath, who found one of the type of little pockets of space he was discovering all afternoon, exploited it and fed Hackett, who made no mistake despite Jayson Leutwiler getting a glove on it.

The second was a perfectly-executed planned move from a free-kick which was expertly finished by Byrom.

The midfielder ran up to the ball as if to strike it, continued his run into the box and it was tapped into his path by Holmes, who had shaped to shoot, and Byrom buried it in off the back post.

Substitute Bobby Grant attempted to reduce the deficit with a low shot which was well saved by Duke and the corner came to nothing.

Toney could have ended the game as a contest with a chance on the hour mark from a slipped Holmes pass but he could only divert his shot wide on the stretch with the goalkeeper beaten.

Shrewsbury went into full kitchen-sink mode in the final 15 minutes of the game, pushing both full-backs right up and spreading three strikers across their forward line.

But the ball did not really go forward with any quality - invariably the long diagonal passes were either picked off by visiting defenders or reached forwards in offside positions.

When they did pass it, they profited, and Jason Taylor was required to make a good block to deny the impressive Ryan Woods 10 yards from goal and with seven minutes remaining.

A few phases later the deficit had been reduced when Demetriou headed in a free-kick to set up the grandstand finish.

Holmes drew a superb save from Leutwiler as Northampton looked to clinch it and jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and Aaron Wildig both headed chances wide at the other end in injury time.

Shrewsbury: Leutwiler; Grandison, Ellis, Goldson, Demetriou; Clark, Woods, Southern; Barnett, Collins, Vernon

Subs: Grant (for Clark 46), Akpa Akpro (for Vernon 46), Wildig (for Southern 73)

Not used: Halstead, Vincent, Gayle, Mandron

Cobblers: Duke; Moloney, Cresswell, Collins, Horwood; Taylor, Byrom; D’Ath, Holmes, Hackett; Toney

Subs: Carter (for Hackett 68), Diamond (for D’Ath 90)

Not used: Bodin, Jalal, Newey, Clifton, Warburton

Attendance: 5310

Away fans: 643