Northampton Town 3, Wycombe Wanderers 1.
WANDERERS are now propping up the Football League as Adebayo Akinfenwa’s all action display inspired Northampton to victory.
The giant striker scored twice as Blues were punished for failing to take their chances, with Akinfenwa’s second coming very much against the run of play as Wanderers dominated the second half.
Former Wanderers loanee Chris Hackett then poured salt into the gaping wound with an excellent third, as Joel Grant’s penalty was all the travelling Blues fans had to cheer.
Crucially, despite having the lion’s share of the play, Wanderers failed to force home keeper Lee Nicholls into making a serious save as their winless run in League Two was extended to six matches.
Blues went into the game in the relegation zone as Barnet’s draw against Accrington Stanley the previous evening pushed them into the bottom two – and this defeat sends them down to 92nd in the Football League.
Almost everything the Cobblers did went through Akinfenwa as the Wycombe defence struggled to get to grips with the giant wrecking ball of a centre forward.
They were however far more adept at winning the second balls and clearing their lines and, a Jake Robinson shot that almost went out for a throw aside, there was nothing to write home about as Wanderers defended well as a unit.
It took a quarter of the game for the first clear chance at goal and Wanderers probably should have taken the lead. Blues’ first corner of the match was only half cleared and Stuart Lewis hurt himself winning the ball back from man mountain Akinfenwa but fed Grant in the process.
The lively winger then crossed for Leon Johnson to nod down into the path of Charles Dunne, but from five yards the young full back scuffed his effort against the post with home defenders motionless.
Dunne’s whipped cross-shot from the corner of the box just curled away at the last moment, but just as Blues were starting to get a foothold in the game they fell behind. Winger Hackett, who failed to impress in a loan spell at Adams Park last season, escaped down the right and sent over a superb delivery right onto Akinfenwa’s forehead.
It’s the kind of service the big man thrives on and he made no mistake, burying the ball past Jordan Archer from close range.
The goal came during Wanderers’ best spell of the first half and the unlikely figure of Dunne looked to haul them back into contention, as his next effort from a deep cross was headed into the side netting with Cobblers keeper Nicholls stranded.
But the home side probably should have doubled their advantage as Akinfenwa nodded a decent opening wide of goal after stealing in front of his marker at Ben Tozer’s long throw.
Strong penalty appeals, with Demontagnac tumbling under Dunne’s challenge, were waved away by the referee, with the aggrieved winger debating the decision prior to disappearing down the tunnel at half time.
Wanderers started the second half on the attack as Dennis Oli appeared out of nowhere to latch onto Archer’s long clearance before flashing a shot across the face of goal, and Grant hammered well off target from a corner.
They struck the woodwork for a second time when Lewis flicked the ball on for Dean Morgan in a goalmouth scramble, but the striker could only find the angle of post and crossbar.
More chances went begging as Grant and Morgan both had shots blocked – with Blues claiming the first one hit a hand – before the third penalty shout of the day was waved away as Grant went over in the box.
Northampton then went on the attack for the first time in the second half and doubled their lead as this time referee Paul Tierney pointed to the spot as Dave Winfield fouled substitute Clive Platt. Akinfenwa made no mistake, sending Archer the wrong way.
If that was against the run of play then the next goal came completely out of the blue, as Hackett cut in from the corner of the box and thundered a searing drive into the top corner of the net to open up an underserved three goal advantage for Northampton.
Blues pulled one back when they were finally, after many questions, awarded a penalty when Danny East barged Morgan over in the corner of the penalty. Grant kept his nerve, sending Nicholls the wrong way from the spot.
Morgan, having won the penalty, came close to setting up a grandstand finish when his 25 yard effort from out wide curled just the wrong side of the post with Nicholls grasping thin air.
But the Cobblers responded and Akinfenwa was inches away from going home with the match ball from a second successive game as his header from a long throw clattered against the bar, with Archer foiling skipper Kelvin Langmead from the follow-up.
Archer produced a decent low save to deny Akinfenwa at the near post, before the man beast was removed withy ten minutes remaining to a standing ovation.
Still Wanderers refused to go quietly as Nicholls held Morgan’s near post effort before racing off his line to deny Dunne as the left back’s well-hit shot was turned away when through one on one.
Wanderers: Archer, Foster, Winfield, Johnson, Dunne, Grant, Lewis, Scowen, Wood (sub Andrade), Oli (sub McClure), Morgan. Substitutes not used: Ainsworth, Harrison, Kewley-Graham, Morias, Taylor.
Attendance: 4,764 (471 from Wycombe)