Hackett shines as Cobblers seal league double over Dagenham

CLASS ACT - Chris Hackett is all smiles after scoring the Cobblers' second (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
CLASS ACT - Chris Hackett is all smiles after scoring the Cobblers' second (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
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Chris Hackett and Kelvin Langmead were on target as the Cobblers kicked off 2013 by completing a league double over Dagenham & Redbridge.

Town ran out 3-1 winners at Sixfields with an own goal completing the scoring as the team made it back-to-back league wins.

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Having not played since December 22 due to postponed matches, the first half an hour was as stodgy as a Christmas pudding but Aidy Boothroyd’s men soon found their stride and scored twice in four minutes to effectively settle what was a fairly even contest.

Results elsewhere mean Northampton now sit 10th in npower League Two and have closed the gap on the play-offs to four points ahead of Saturday’s visit of Fleetwood to Sixfields.

Anthony Charles was given a start in the heart of the defence with Clarke Carlisle unable to play due to a quirk of administration.

Carlisle was on loan from York City until December 30, when his contract at Bootham Crescent ran out, and although the club could have signed him permanently as an unattached player they would have had to register him by 12pm on New Year’s Eve - when the window was still closed.

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Without him, Dagenham had already enjoyed some brief flurries into the Northampton box when the hosts managed to produce some cohesive play of their own.

The first 20 minutes were dominated by poor touches on a good pitch for the time of year but one that still bore the scars of the Aldershot game, played eight days previously and in very wet conditions.

The Cobblers, on the other hand, were fresh from an inactive festive period but that translated into a rustiness that the visitors looked to exploit midway through the first half when a mix-up in defence saw Jake Reed break in behind only to drive his shot horribly high and wide.

But they sprang to life with two goals in the space of three minutes, Clive Platt flicking a long pass on which visiting skipper Abu Ogogo was unfortunate to divert past his own keeper as it bounced up and onto his thigh.

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Then, Hackett conjured a typical piece of blink-of-the-eye brilliance. Platt hit a raking crossfield pass that Hackett collected and looked to drive past left-back Feli Ilesamni with but opted instead to make space for a shot that was fired across Chris Lewington and into the far corner.

Dagenham got themselves into shooting positions twice in the early stages of the second half, with Matthew Saunders fluffing a sidefooted effort from eight yards and Elito driving wide on the angle. Saunders then hit an upright with a header moments later.

But Langmead increased the home side’s advantage almost immediately with a scruffy finish at a corner kick that came off an unspecified body part.

Dagenham’s outfield players appealed for a handball and their goalkeeper appealed for some stronger defending - Langmead was inside the six-yard box when he got the crucial touch.

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As was Scott Doe when he nodded a free-kick from the Daggers’ right wide; the centre-back really should have done better as the game started to slip away from them.

Doe, though, did substantially when he collected a pass in space 20 yards out and drilled a shot past Lee Nicholls’ right hand with just less than 20 minutes left on the clock.

That goal should have been the signal for a Daggers onslaught but it was not and the hosts were able to use the final third of the match for counter-attacking practice and to give Luke Guttridge a run-out after recovering from injury.

They also collected another valuable three points.

Cobblers: Nicholls, Tozer, Langmead, Charles, Widdowson, Hackett, Hornby, Harding, Robinson, Platt, Akinfenwa

Subs: Guttridge (for Hornby 63), Moult (for Platt 79)

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Not used: Demontagnac, Snedker, Turnbull, Dias, Moyo

Dagenham: Lewington, Ogogo, Wilkinson, Doe, Ilesamni, Reed, Howell, Saunders, Spillane, Elito, Williams

Subs: Woodall (for Reed 46), Caprice (for Saunders 76)

Not used: Scott, Maher, Hoyte, Bingham, Seabright

Attendance: 4,368

Away fans: 172