Rampant Cobblers turned on the style as they hammered high-flying Morecambe 4-2 at a sun-kissed Globe Arena.
Town certainly had a great day out by the seaside as goals from Lawson D’Ath, Sam Hoskins, Joel Byrom and Dominic Calvert-Lewin secured a mightily impressive victory, that really should have been more emphatic than the scoreline suggests.
Morecambe went into this game on the back of four straight wins, but a strong opening 20 minutes aside, they were overwhelmed by a classy Cobblers team playing an exciting brand of high-tempo, attacking football.
Town registered an incredible 20 shots on target as they dominated the match, and the only disappointment for manager Chris Wilder will be that they didn’t convert more of those opportunities.
Northampton were forced into two changes from the win over Oxford United, with Jason Taylor suspended and Marc Richards dropping to the bench due to a slight side strain.
Ryan Watson was called up to replace Taylor, with Calvert-Lewin leading the line in place of Richards.
Morecambe made a bright start, and veteran striker Kevin Ellison caused a few early problems running in behind the central defenders, but it was midfielder Aaron Wildig who had the first serious effort on goal, his left-foot shot from 20 yards gathered well by Adam Smith.
Seconds later, Calvert-Lewin latched on to a big kick from Smith and sent a dipping volley over the bar with the Cobblers’ first sight of goal.
With 14 minutes on the clock, Smith made a great left-handed save to divert Ellison’s close-range right-foot volley wide, the unmarked striker being cleverly picked out at the far post by Wildig.
The Cobblers had to soak up some sustained Morecambe pressure, and did it well, before almost taking the lead on 25 minutes.
Hoskins did brilliantly down the left to get a low cross which Calvert-Lewin met at the near post. The young striker diverted the ball goalwards with a solid connection, but Barry Roche saved with his feet and Byrom hammered the rebound high and wide.
The Cobblers were now on a bit of a roll, and Calvert-Lewin should have scored with a free header from six yards out after an inswinging Byrom corner, but he headed into the players crowded on the line.
Roche, who was struggling to deal with the Cobblers’ set-piece delivery, then did well to save a curling 20-yard effort from Nicky Adams.
It seemed only a matter of time before the visitors scored, and they did so on 31 minutes, D’Ath volleying home from close range after Adams did well down the left, whipping in a wicked outswinging cross.
Two minutes later in was 2-0. David Buchanan broke down the left and sent a pass towards Hoskins at the far post. Left-back Laurence Wilson should have dealt with it easily, but he let the ball go under his foot, gifting Hoskins a free hit from 10 yards, and he didn’t waste it.
Morecambe were shell-shocked, but they were almost back in it on 42 minutes. Ellison’s looping header looked to be heading for the net, but Ryan Cresswell popped up to clear off the line.
The home side would have come out for the second half looking to start quickly, instead it was the Cobblers that started on the front foot and went 3-0 up.
Adams was fouled on the right wing, and Byrom’s inswinging left-footed cross evaded everybody and went in at the far post with Roche rooted to his line.
Roche was far from static on 51 minutes and kept his team in the game, making a stunning double save to deny Adams and then Calvert-Lewin from close range, with Adam Dugdale then blocking Hoskins’ follow-up effort.
The Cobblers were playing some flashy football, and should have scored a fourth on 55 minutes, but Hoskins was again denied by a Dugdale block when he should have scored after a Calvert-Lewin knockdown.
As the game wore on, the Cobblers always looked likely to add to their tally, and Roche had to be sharp to save an Adams piledriver.
But the home side were given a lifeline on 67 minutes as they made it 3-1.
Sloppy defending allowed Ellison a rare sight of goal, and although his shot was tipped over by a retreating Smith, the resultant corner was bundled in at the near post by Tom Barkhuizen.
Home spirits were lifted, but that was to be short-lived, as seconds later the Cobblers increased their lead.
Adams sent Alfie Potter clear in acres of space down the right and his low cross was met by Calvert-Lewin, who cheekily back-flicked the ball into the net.
The Cobblers continued to create and miss chances, while a spirited Morecambe kept going, and were rewarded with a consolation goal on 86 minutes, Paul Mullin’s low cross being diverted into his own net by defender Shaun Brisley.
But it was to prove no more than a consolation as the Cobblers recorded their second win in a row, with possibly their most complete performance of the season.
Morecambe: Roche, Beeley, Dugdale, Edwards, Devitt (73m, Molyneux), Barkhuisen, Ellison, Goodall (57m, Mullin), Wildig, Fleming, Wilson (82m, McGowan). Subs not used: O’Hara, Miller, Ryan, Parrish
Cobblers: Smith, Furlong, Cresswell, Brisley, Buchanan, Watson, Byrom, D’Ath (90m, O’Toole), Adams, Hoskins (63m, Potter), Calvert-Lewin. Sub not used: Clarke, Richards, Lelan, Corry, Hackett
Referee: Eddie Ilderton
Goals: 31 mins: D’Ath 0-1; 33 mins: Hoskins 0-2; 47 mins: Byrom 0-3; 67 mins: Barkhuizen 1-3; 69 mins: Calvert-Lewin 1-4
Cobblers fans: 327