Newport County AFC suffered their first defeat of the 2019/20 League Two campaign as Northampton Town secured a 2-0 victory at The PTS Academy Stadium.
The Cobblers were the last team to beat County before the Exiles embarked on a club record 17 match unbeaten run in the fourth tier, but Keith Curle’s side again reigned supreme as goals in either half from Andy Williams and Sam Hoskins gave them all three points.
County drop two places to fourth and will be determined to provide an adequate response at Macclesfield Town on Tuesday night.
Manager Michael Flynn elected to make two changes to the starting side which battled to a 1-0 victory over Port Vale last weekend at Rodney Parade.
After continuing his impressive start to the campaign with Ireland U21s, Danny McNamara came straight back into the side upon his return from international duty, while Kyle Howkins also returned to a 4-2-1-3 formation.
Ryan Inniss began his five-match suspension and Daniel Leadbitter made his way to the substitutes bench in the alterations for the Exiles.
Northampton Town manager Keith Curle made just the one change to his side which has started the season a little slower than expected, defender Scott Wharton replacing Matt Warburton in a 4-1-2-3 formation.
The Exiles started the game on the front foot and thought they had taken the lead inside 100 seconds. Captain Joss Labadie powered home a header from Matty Dolan’s pinpoint free kick, but the flag was raised early to rule out the opportunity.
In truth, that was about all County could muster in an otherwise defensive first half display and they fell behind in just the fifth minute as Andy Williams claimed his fourth goal of the campaign.
Shaun McWilliams’ delivery caused mayhem in the area, the Cobblers striker managed to work himself a yard around fallen players, Mark O’Brien tried valiantly to block it on the goal line but could only divert it into the opposite corner.
League Two’s meanest defence had been breached just before they could get to 10 hours without conceding a goal, but they were back to their familiar best when thwarting further Northampton chances and repelling most of what came at them.
Hoskins did manage to power a header into the palms of Tom King on 19 minutes but that was actually it in terms of chances for the inaugural 45 minutes amid two strong defences.
Chances continued to be few and far between after the restart, County were much improved yet still needed something different going forward, on came Jamille Matt and Corey Whitely after the hour to replace Amond and Dolan.
The second half’s opening moment of real note came the way of Northampton and it required a superb save from King to keep it out. This time Nicky Adams was the provider of the cross, Chris Lines reached it, but King somehow turned it onto his right post.
As the game progressed, County had to throw more things at their hosts and with that, the Cobblers were able to break on a counterattack and double their advantage on 72 minutes.
You have to give opposing teams credit when they score a goal of real quality and from a lovely passage of play, three players were involved in two touch football before the ball was squared across the face of goal for Hoskins to tap home.
The introduction of Dominic Poleon for his Exiles debut gave them more of an impetus in the latter parts of proceedings, but they still couldn’t cause any problems to David Cornell as Northampton comfortably saw out their third victory of the League Two campaign.
To make matters worse, Matt was given two innocuous yellow cards late in the day as he was dismissed just before the indication of six additional minutes.
Newport County AFC (4-2-1-3): Tom King, Ryan Haynes, Mark O’Brien, Kyle Howkins, Danny McNamara (Dominic Poleon 75’), Josh Sheehan, Matty Dolan (Corey Whitely 63’), Joss Labadie (C), Robbie Willmott, Padraig Amond (Jamille Matt 63’), Tristan Abrahams
Subs not used: Townsend, Leadbitter, Bennett, Maloney
Northampton Town (4-1-2-3): David Cornell, Michael Harriman, Charlie Goode (C), Scott Wharton, Joe Martin, Jordan Turnbull, Shaun McWilliams (Egli Kaja 53’), Chris Lines, Nicky Adams (Matt Warburton 87’), Andy Williams (Harry Smith 79’), Sam Hoskins
Subs not used: Pollock, Oliver, Waters, Fisher
Referee: Alan Young
Attendance: 4,616 (289 AWAY)
Next up for County: Macclesfield Town (17th September 2019) AWAY