REPORT | Wanderers 2 Northampton Town 1

Williams Charles celebration

Two early goals did the damage for Wanderers as they got the victory they needed to improve their position inside League One’s top six, writes Pete Oliver.

Dion Charles and Randell Williams struck within the opening 17 minutes as the Whites bounced back from defeat last time out to make it three wins from the last four league games to go fourth in the table.

Charles moved to within one of double figures for the season before Williams’ first of the campaign promised to make it a comfortable afternoon.

The lack of a third goal from some outstanding passages of play and a handful of decent openings meant it didn’t work out that way.

But Ian Evatt’s men did enough to hold off a Town comeback following Sam Hoskins’ 66th-minute reply and on an afternoon when the winning was everything they saw it out to take three important points ahead of a week on the road at Wycombe and Charlton.

Charles goal Northampton

The Whites felt they needed to make amends for their loss against Carlisle ahead of the international break and came out like men on a mission.

And, crucially, they got the early goal to back up their intent.

Williams was heavily involved from the off and it was his shot – following a neat one-two with George Thomason – that came back off a post for Charles to coolly slot Wanderers in front.

Williams then forced Lee Burge tip over another strike at goal and from the corner that followed, Eoin Toal and the returning Ricardo Almeida Santos both saw efforts blocked inside the six-yard box.

Williams goal Northampton

Town’s goal didn’t survive intact for long, though, as Williams made it 2-0 with just over a quarter of an hour gone.

Aaron Morley looked to make the most of his re-call, along with Santos and Gethin Jones, and it was the midfielder’s lovely through-ball that released Williams for the wing-back to cut inside and steer home his second goal for the club.

Some of Wanderers’ attacking football was a joy to watch as they constantly threatened a third goal against a Northampton side which had won twice away from home this season following promotion back to the third tier.

And having weathered the storm, the Cobblers almost sniffed a route back into the game just before the break as Wanderers surrendered possession just outside their penalty area and Santos had to show his defensive attributes with a vital block to deny Town skipper and top scorer Hoskins.

Wanderers needed to regain some of their early sparkle and Charles did his best to re-ignite the flame five minutes into the second half when he robbed Marc Leonard and charged forward before firing an effort just over the top.

The top-scorer then guided an effort straight at Burge from Josh Dacres-Cogley’s pull-back as the Whites looked for the third goal that would kill the contest.

Team celebration Northampton

Thomason was next to work Burge as Wanderers created another opening and just past the hour mark the Whites thought they had made the break-through.

Thomason and Williams again combined well for the latter to deliver a fine cross laid off by Dacres-Cogley for Morley to connect with a close-range effort blocked in front of goal by Town defender Akin Odimayo.

And that failure to punish the visitors then cost Evatt’s men when Hoskins – having just passed up one chance presented to him – headed home a cross from Manny Monthe to make it 2-1 and get his side back in the game with 25 minutes to go.

That made it more nervy than it should have been but in reality goalkeeper Nathan Baxter wasn’t severely tested again as the re-assuring return of Santos helped get the job done and the Whites moving back in the right direction.

Wanderers: Baxter; Jones, Almeida Santos, Toal; Thomason; Dacres-Cogley, Morley (Maghoma, 74), Sheehan, Williams; Charles (Nlundulu, 79), Adeboyejo (Bodvarsson, 79). Substitutes: Coleman, Iredale, Forrester, Jerome.

Booked: None

Northampton Town: Burge; Odimayo (Lintott 74), Sherring, Monthe, Brough (Koiki 61); McWilliams, Leonard; Bowie (Willis HT), Pinnock, Hoskins; Simpson (Hondermarck 74). Substitutes: Thompson, McGowan, Haynes.

Booked: Hondermarck

Referee: Martin Coy

Attendance: 19,160 (750 away)

Read Time: 4 mins