Richards strike secures crucial win for Cobblers

GOAL DELIGHT - Marc Richards celebrates after scoring for the Cobblers against Stevenage (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)
GOAL DELIGHT - Marc Richards celebrates after scoring for the Cobblers against Stevenage (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)

Marc Richards’ ninth goal of the season was enough to get the Cobblers back to winning ways at the expense of Stevenage at Sixfields.

Richards swooped to score the only goal of a 1-0 victory after 20 minutes and Northampton should have added to their tally in a dominant first-half performance.

Cobblers V Stevenage. NNL-141122-160635009

Cobblers V Stevenage. NNL-141122-160635009

But they were hanging on towards the end and the visitors missed two glorious chances to level the game in injury time.

Alex Nicholls should have got a connection on a low Chris Hackett cross in the game’s first few minutes after Ben Tozer had won the ball well in midfield.

Nicholls then played a wall pass with Marc Richards and went to ground under pressure from the defence but the appeals for a penalty were waved away.

Stevenage had done nothing in the game when Northampton took the lead, Richards converting in style from 12 yards after being picked out in the box by a low Stewart Murdoch cross.

Cobblers V Stevenage. NNL-141122-160732009

Cobblers V Stevenage. NNL-141122-160732009

Richards almost had an instant second when he headed a copybook Hackett delivery off the right, going across goalkeeper Chris Day but against the top of the crossbar.

The unlikely figure of Gregor Robertson was the next player to register a goalward header, drawing a good save by Day low at his right-hand post after another Hackett cross.

But the Cobblers made a slow and sleepy start to the second half and Charlie Lee was only denied an equalising goal when Jordan Archer broke quickly from his line and blocked at the midfielder’s feet.

In an attacking sense, it was really just bits and pieces stuff for the Cobblers in the second half with Ivan Toney on as a substitute and working hard but little quality coming into the box for him and Richards.

Cobblers V Stevenage. NNL-141122-160721009

Cobblers V Stevenage. NNL-141122-160721009

Five minutes were added at the end of the game and in the second of them a long ball over the top was completely missed by Lee Collins to present Lee Barnard with a shot at goal, which he put against the bar with Archer beaten.

Stevenage missed another glorious chance a minute later when a deep cross from the left was met by Chris Whelpdale at the back post with perfect timing but a scruffy finish which was wide of the target.

The Cobblers made hard work of the final stages of the game and were hanging on at times but eventually saw it out for the three points.

Cobblers: Archer; Tozer, Langmead, Collins, Robertson; Hackett, Murdoch, Carter, Mohamed; Richards, Nicholls

Subs: Toney (for Nicholls 57), Byrom (for Mohamed 85), Ravenhill (for Hackett 85)

Not used: Duke, Alfei, Sinclair, Moyo

Stevenage: Day; Henry, Ashton, Wells, Dembele; Adams, Jebb, McAllister, Lee; Barnard, Charles

Subs: Parrett (for Jebb 68), Deacon (for Charles 77), Whelpdale (for Lee 83)

Not used: Beasant, Bond, Walton, Okimo

Attendance: 4,431

Stevenage fans: 309