Northampton 3-0 City
City's poor recent run of results continued as they succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of a clinical Northampton Town side at Sixfields this afternoon, writes Andrew Morris.
Northampton's powerful and direct approach triumphed over City's short passing game in a match littered with niggly fouls and yellow cards.
The hosts began in forceful fashion, sweeping down both flanks at every opportunity. Adebayo Akenfenwa proving particularly tricky to handle for the City back-line with his neat touch and unrivalled strength.
Having weathered an early storm of set pieces and speculative long-shots City almost took a surprise lead when from John O'Flynn's neat cutback former Cobbler Arron Davies was brilliantly denied by a covering tackle as he attempted to slot home from close-range.
From the resulting break Northampton picked holes in City's defensive shape as former Grecian Chris Hackett found space to search out a cross that eventually found its way to Akenfenwa. The striker steered a beautifully controlled volley beyond Rhys Evans' dive into the furthest reaches of the bottom right-hand corner for the opening goal.
If there was a hint of fortune about the goal with the way the ball fell kindly for Akenfenwa, City could have no such complaints about the hosts' second goal which arrived ten minutes before the interval.
Finding himself in the right-back position following a free-kick, O'Flynn was turned inside out by midfielder Emyr Huws, making his debut having moved from Manchester City, who stood up an inviting cross that unmarked captain Kelvin Langmead powered home from six yards out to double his sides advantage.
There was further advances on Evans' goal before the break as the hosts ended a one-sided half as the began in the ascendancy.
The scoreline prompted Paul Tisdale into introducing Alan Gow at halftime at the expense of Kevin Amamkwaah.
Gow's arrival injected some much needed attacking verve into City and it was his ball that freed Steve Tully down the right who's deflected cross saw Cureton's acrobatic effort draw a smart save from the largely untroubled Lee Nicholls in the Northampton goal.
A intelligently worked quick freekick then saw Gow and Cureton exchange passes inside the box which lead to the former striking the outside of the post with a fierce drive.
As the game passed the hour mark Tisdale introduced Tommy Doherty and Liam Sercombe for O'Flynn and Pat Baldwin with City still seeking a way back into a contest which looked to be slipping away.
A rare pacey counter-attack from City then produced undoubtably their best chance of the afternoon. Sercombe surged down the right and fed Gow who drove at the defence before releasing Cureton in on goal with an incisive slide-rule pass. But City's top scorer was thwarted by a smart low save.
Cureton's frustrating afternoon was compounded when a clumsy tackle from behind went completely unpunished by the well-placed referee with the striker just yards from goal.
Northampton's lead always looked a comfortable one and they added to it in the final stages with another goal coming from a delivery from a wide area.
A deep cross was headed back across goal where Alex Nicholls beat Evans to the ball to slot home and sentence City to a fourth defeat in five games.
The goal completed a fine individual performance from the attacking midfielder and put the gloss on his teams now inevitable victory.
3-0 was how it stayed. A game to forget for the travelling City support on a chilly autumnal afternoon in Northamptonshire where the team seemed short of their fluent best.
Northampton looked comfortable in their system from first whistle to last whereas City were a little devoid of attacking ideas until the introduction of Gow.
Positives for City were the valuable game time secured by Bennett, Gow and Sercombe. Fans will be hoping that all three are in contention for the visit of Chesterfield next Saturday where Tisdale's side will be searching for an improvement on today's disappointing result.
City: Evans, Amankwaah (Gow), Baldwin (Doherty), Coles, Woodman, Tully, Bennett, Oakley, Davies, O'Flynn (Sercombe), Cureton