Tom Rubashow reports from Sixfields Stadium
A goal in each half gave Northampton Town a 2-1 home victory against Charlton.
A lively Jordan Botaka levelled the scores just before half time after Matt Smith had given the hosts the lead but a well struck finish from John-Joe O’Toole ensured Northampton took the three points in front of 1,424 travelling Charlton fans.
The Addicks made three changes to the side that lost to Shrewsbury Town in mid-week with Lewis Page, Patrick Bauer and Fredrick Ulvestad replacing Jorge Teixeira, Joe Aribo and Johnnie Jackson. Declan Rudd started in goal behind a back four of Nathan Byrne, Bauer, Ezri Konsa and Page, Andrew Crofts and Ulvestad started in central midfield with Botaka and Rickie Holmes, returning to play against his former team, on the wing. Josh Magennis and Lee Novak started up front in a 4-4-2 formation.
Charlton began the game with intent and won two corners within the first five minutes. In the seventh minute Botaka gave Northampton a hint of the magic he can produce, skilfully beating three players but he was unable to find a teammate with his cross.
In the opening quarter of the game both teams got into decent positions, but did little to test the respective goalkeepers. Holmes caused problems hitting wide and straight at the keeper while at the other end Smith hit a shot wide after finding himself free at the edge of the box and Zander Diamond’s backpost header was straight at Rudd.
Diamond was only on the pitch as a 22nd minute substitute for Gabriel Zakuani, who was injured in an unnecessary collision with his own goalkeeper.
Northampton took a 32nd minute lead after some good work down their right and a brilliant cross by full back Aaron Phillips found former Charlton man Smith in the box whose powerful header gave Rudd no chance.
Charlton’s response was immediate. Byrne found Magennis after a beautiful turn and the Northern Irish striker drilled a shot at the keeper from range. The Addicks kept the pressure on and minutes later had equalised. Holmes, a constant threat, won a corner down the left. The winger took the corner himself which was met at the back post by a powerful Konsa header. Adam Smith, in the Northampton, goal saved well but straight into the path of Botaka who poked the rebound home.
The Addicks stayed on the front foot following the goal with Botaka’s dipping 41st minute effort just clearing the crossbar and a 44th minute drive from Magennis going just wide meaning the two sides went in level at half time.
Bauer was sick at half time and didn’t return in the second half with Teixeira replacing him at centre-half.
There were a flurry of Charlton corners to start the second half but it was midfielder O’Toole who gave Northampton the lead in the 62nd minute pouncing in the box with a first time strike after a failed Charlton clearance.
Shortly afterwards an injured Page had to be replaced by the returning Adam Chicksen and Tony Watt was Charlton’s final substitute replacing Lee Novak. Charlton pushed forward in the hope of getting a crucial equaliser but rarely troubled Smith and Northampton were able to hold onto their lead to take the three points.
Northampton Town: A.Smith, Phillips, Zakuani (Diamond 22), Nyatanga, Buchanan, Williams (Anderson 68), O’Toole, Taylor, Wylde (McCourt 80), M.Smith, Richards
Subs (not used): Moloney, Anderson, Beautyman, Cornell
Goals: M.Smith 32, O’Toole 62
Charlton: Rudd, Byrne, Bauer (Teixeira 46), Konsa, Page (Chicksen 74), Holmes, Crofts, Ulvestad, Magennis, Novak (Watt 76).
Subs (not used): Phillips, Jackson, Aribo, Dasilva
Goal: Botaka 34
Booked: Watt (90 push)
Referee: B Toner
Att: 7,118 (1,424 from Charlton)
Read Time: 3 mins