Cobblers boss Boothroyd’s relief as Harding comes up trumps from set-piece

GOAL GLEE - the Cobblers players engulf match winner Ben Harding following his late winner at Sixfields (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)
GOAL GLEE - the Cobblers players engulf match winner Ben Harding following his late winner at Sixfields (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)
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Aidy Boothroyd says the Cobblers’ set-piece proficiency was the reason they beat Bristol Rovers in a close encounter at Sixfields.

Town and the Gas looked to be heading for a 0-0 stalemate as both sides threatened to cancel each other out in a game of few chances.

Cobblers V Bristol Rovers.

Cobblers V Bristol Rovers.

But Ben Harding volleyed in an 88th-minute winner - his first goal of the season - at a Ben Tozer long throw to seal home win number 13 for Northampton and keep them fourth in npower League Two.

“I thought it was scrappy at times, a lot like the Plymouth game, and it was a case of two evenly-matched teams going at each other,” said Boothroyd, whose side won 1-0 in their previous game too, with the decisive goal coming from a corner.

“Bristol Rovers are fighting for their lives and we’re trying to get promoted so it was always going to be a tight one.

“We managed to win it on a set play and when games are tight that’s what wins games.

Cobblers V Bristol Rovers.'Ben Harding's goal.

Cobblers V Bristol Rovers.'Ben Harding's goal.

“We were dogged and persistent and it doesn’t matter if you win the game in the first minute or the 90th minute.

“We edged it really and the reason we did that was because we are good at set plays.”

Boothroyd took the decision to leave influential winger Chris Hackett completely out of the matchday squad, and explained it was done to give the player extra rest for Saturday’s trip to Exeter City.

“I was concerned about Chris because in the past couple of games he’s been playing with two or three little knocks and he’s a marked man now,” said Boothroyd, who also confirmed Adebayo Akinfenwa, who left the contest at half-time with a hip injury, will be clear to play at the weekend..

“People want to kick him and stop him and he’s got a lot of bumps and bruises so I thought this would be a good game to rest him because I wanted him right for Saturday.

“I knew if I put him on the bench I’d be looking around at him after an hour and I’d bring him on, so I left him out and he’ll be refreshed for Saturday.”