Hackett makes scoring return as Northampton Town ease past Accrington

WELCOME RETURN - Chris Hackett is a happy man after putting the Cobblers 1-0 ahead against Accrington at Sixfields (pictures: Kelly Cooper)
WELCOME RETURN - Chris Hackett is a happy man after putting the Cobblers 1-0 ahead against Accrington at Sixfields (pictures: Kelly Cooper)

Chris Hackett returned to the Cobblers side with a literal and metaphorical bang as his superb free-kick put them on the road to victory against Accrington.

Hackett, restored to the side after a two-match absence through injury, thundered home a free-kick with the game not even 10 minutes old.

And Roy O’Donovan capitalised on a bad mistake by visiting keeper Paul Rachubka to add a second on the half-hour mark in what proved a comfortable win.

It was also Northampton’s 11th win in their past 12 home matches and results elsewhere mean they are just a point outside the top three, and two off second-placed Port Vale.

O’Donovan himself was fouled for the game’s opening goal, going down on the edge of the box following Clive Platt’s intuitive flick.

Hackett sized the ball up briefly before producing an exocet of a shot that whistled past the while and beyond the outstretched left hand of former Town loanee Rachubka.

It was an excellent strike and a genuine moment of magic from a player whose ability to create and score goals has been badly missing in the past couple of matches.

Hackett almost scored a second seven minutes later with another free-kick - again for a foul on O’Donovan - that deflected wide of the left-hand post with Rachubka beaten.

Thomas Aldred then almost sold his keeper short with a header back that O’Donovan almost reached before Rachubka, but he did not have to wait long for his goal.

The keeper then kicked his clearance at the back of O’Donovan, who beat him to the ball out wide, brushed him to one side and curled a shot into the unguarded net.

It highlighted the hard-working nature of the Irish striker, who never gave up initially and then proceeded to keep a cool head as defenders arrived on the cover, but it has to go down as a bad error by the goalkeeper.

Ishmel Demotagnac almost added a third at the second phase of a Ben Tozer throw but Town had to settle for just a two-goal advantage after the first 45 minutes.

The second half was a tale of spurned possession, with the Cobblers allow Accrington to have the ball for long spells as they attempted to operate more of a counter-attacking game.

Ben Harding carved out a good scoring position for Demontagnac from one such break but the winger - after doing everything right and showing great speed - blazed horribly high and wide of the target.

Two goals always looked like they would be enough to beat Accrington and so it proved but Lee Nicholls was required to make a fine double-save with two minutes to go to preserve the clean sheet and ensure a comfortable ending to the game.

Cobblers: Nicholls, Tozer, Carlisle, Langmead, Widdowson, Hackett, Harding, Hornby, Demontagnac, O’Donovan, Platt

Subs: Johnson (Hornby 66), Akinfenwa (Platt 71), Robinson (Hackett 74)

Not used: Guttridge, Collins,, Snedker,, Dias

Accrington: Rachubka, Hunt, Aldred, Winnard, Wilson, Lindfield, Murphy, Linganzi, Boco, Molyneaux

Subs: Jeffers (Lindfield 69), Carver (Gray 81), Hatfield (Boco 86)

Not used: Joyce, Barnett, Miller, Dunbavin

Attendance: 4,746

Away fans: 73

Referee: Stuart Attwell