The Imps progressed through to round two of this seasons Emirates FA Cup as they won a superb five goal thriller at Sincil Bank.
City went in front through Harry Anderson early in the first half and then Tom Pett doubled the lead early in the second half, but an almost immediate riposte from the visitors through Jack Bridge gave them hope and the Cobblers were to level thorugh Kevin Van Veen and hope for a replay but Bruno Andrade changed all that with the goal of the game deep into stoppage time.
City’s FA Cup run started brightly as the sun shone over Sincil Bank this afternoon, as The Imps dominated possession pressing forward and forcing The Cobblers into hurried and inaccurate clearances from inside their own box. Harry Anderson and Bruno Andrade were stretching the visitors defence and their crosses and positivity were threatening to the breach the visitors backline, John Akinde raced after one of the through balls but David Cornell just raced out of goal ahead of the City striker to deny him the chance for the opening goal.
Northampton Town’s Shaun McWilliams though looked to silence the home fans when he showed quick feet and trickery to create space to shoot, but his attempt to play a measured effort beyond Josh Vickers only saw the ball float off target. However, the shot only served as further inspiration as the support from the home areas of the stadium increased, Akinde and Andrade then played a delicate one-two which Akinde got a shot away from that whistled off just target.
That close call was just a precursor for the opening goal of the game and it came in style, Harry Toffolo took a throw just in front of the home dugout to Andrade who returned the ball to the overlapping fullback with a backheel, the low cross into the box was met by ANDERSON ghosting in from the right flank to sidefoot home confidently back across a helpless Cornell in The Cobbler’s goal.
Kevin Van Veen was close to creating an equaliser for the visiting side, he got the better of Toffolo almost on the touchline in front of his own supporters in the Stacey West stand and somehow dinked the ball into the area but Vickers dived to palm the ball away from a number of Northampton players lining up to nod home.
The creator of The Cobbler’s chance was then the creator of one for City after he brought down Andrade, the resulting deep free kick from Michael O’Connor was met by Jason Shackell at the back post with a flying volley but his effort was diverted from goal, then almost immediately Shay McCartan was denied what would have been a goal of the season contender. The Imps man danced round three tackles to bear down on goal, he looked up and slid the ball low to Cornell’s right but somehow the Northampton custodian was to stick out a leg to deny City a second goal. McCartan was a man on a mission and the opposition struggled to contain the Northern Irishman as he lashed a shot inches wide of the target with Cornell diving in vain to his right-hand side.
For all The Imps’ dominance, Northampton looked dangerous on the break and the home side had Vickers to thank when O’Toole hit a thunderous drive from range which the City ‘keeper matched with a fine diving save.
The visitors pushed right to the half time whistle looking for an equaliser which arguably would have been against the run of play, but City held out to head in one goal to the good.
The Imps 1 Northampton Town 0
Northampton changed their shape at the break and had the first effort in a quickfire start to the second half, following a free kick the ball was cleared out of the City box and Sam Hoskins smashed an effort off target.
McCartan was denied by a combination of Arron Pierre and Jordan Turnbull who did just enough to keep the City man from getting through on goal. The Northern Irishman was in imperious form and he was a whisker away from getting his name on the scoresheet after Anderson and Akinde linked with the latter feeding a slide rule pass to McCartan who rounded Cornell but couldn’t quite wrap his foot around the ball enough to squeeze it home.
However, the home supporters didn’t have long to wait for their second goal of the game. The ball was played to the edge of the box and it was held up by Akinde as Tom PETT ran onto the ball to place a fantastic shot which arrowed into the bottom right corner for his third goal of the season.
Northampton almost replied immediately as the ball bounced kindly for Pierre inside the box, only for him to see his shot blocked but that disappointment soon turned to joy as Jack Bridge fired home into the bottom corner, within two minutes of Pett putting City two goals in front. The visitors were invigorated by the goal and were coming forward with a renewed intensity, and they went close to netting an equaliser as the ball almost took a nick off the far post as it whistled across goal from left to right through a sea of legs inside the City box.
Vickers was called upon to deny Van Veen for what would have been a memorable equaliser from a visiting point of view but The Imps ‘keeper made it as memorable save, an unbelievable effort from the Cobbler’s number ten was arcing into the top left corner but somehow Vickers dived to his left, clawing the ball out of the top corner with his right hand as the home fans all got to their feet to applaud a truly wonderful stop.
Despite the temperature in the ground dropping, the game kept the supporters warm as it was a game which had plenty of spice as both sides thundered into challenges vying for possession. McCartan almost squeezed a shot under the diving right hand of Cornell, the Cobbler’s ‘keeper just getting enough on the ball to turn it wide of goal. Cornell was at it again from the resulting corner, this time denying Andrade as he hit the ball first time on the volley.
However, it was the visitors who were to strike the fourth goal of the game to level in an enthralling cup tie, Pierre getting down the right to centre, Van Veen took a touch before turning and lashing high into the goal from close range with just under ten minutes remaining in the game. City pressed the hardest in search of the winning goal and Anderson was left disaapointed as he saw an effort fly over the top from deep inside The Cobblers box, but that frustration was soon forgotten as ANDRADE saved the best for last, scoring the goal of the game deep into stoppage time, he took control out on the left, taking a touch to take the ball out of his feet and curl a wonderful effort beyond the despairing dive of Cornell to win the tie.
The Imps 3 Northampton Town 2
1 Josh VICKERS
4 Michael O’CONNOR
5 Jason SHACKELL
7 Tom PETT
11 Bruno ANDRADE
14 Harry TOFFOLO
15 James WILSON
16 Michael BOSTWICK
17 Shay McCARTAN
26 Harry ANDERSON
29 John AKINDE
24 Sam SLOCOMBE
6 Scott WHARTON (90’ for Andrade)
9 Matt RHEAD (79’ for Akinde)
10 Matt GREEN (86’ for McCartan)
12 Ellis CHAPMAN
18 Bernard MENSAH
20 Adam CROOKES
GOAL: Anderson 16’ Pett 53’ Andrade 90’
Booking: Shackell 45’ Akinde 71’ Pett 90'
1 David CORNELL
3 David BUCHANAN
4 Hakeem ODOFFIN
7 Sam HOSKINS
9 Andy WILLIAMS
10 Kevin VAN VEEN
16 Aaron PIERRE
17 Shaun McWILLIAMS
18 Jordan TURNBULL
19 Jack BRIDGE
21 John-Joe O’TOOLE
34 Lewis WARD
11 Daniel POWELL (71’ for Bridge)
14 Junior MORIAS (58’ for Williams)
20 Billy WATERS
28 Morgan ROBERTS
31 Jay WILLIAMS
35 Camron McWLLIAMS
GOAL: Bridge 55’ Van Veen 81’
Booking: Van Veen 27’ O’Toole 36’ Turnbull 67’ McWilliams 75’
Red Card: Morias 90'
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Assistants: Richard Wigglesworth & David Benton
Attendance: 6,012 (568 Northampton fans)