Hoskins 44


PINT-SIZED Sam Hoskins knocked the early Christmas stuffing out of Forest Green who slipped out of the automatic promotion places.

Hoskins pounced just before the break to snatch the only goal with Rovers culpable when hitting the woodwork three times as they fell to a third straight defeat and stretched their winless run to five as Keith Curle's Northampton Town posted their sixth straight home victory. 

Earlier, head coach Mark Cooper made four changes from the team beaten 1-0 in their FA Cup defeat at Carlisle United.

Junior Mondal dropped to the bench with Farrend Rawson. Dayle Grubb and Kyle Taylor failed to make the matchday squad. Captain Joseph Mills returned from sickness with Jack Aitchison coming back into the starting eleven along with Matty Stevens. Elliott Frear won a place on the bench after overcoming his long-term ankle injury.

The Cobblers were on the front foot on three minutes – Michael Harriman’s thumping header spectacularly gloved over by Adam Smith, on his first league start for Rovers against his former club after Scott Wharton’s deflected delivery.

It was end-to-end – Liam Shephard stabbing onto the foot of the post for Rovers after consternation in the Northampton box.

It was high-octane as the game ebbed and flowed.

The alert feet of Smith denied Anderson on 25 minutes and then from the resultant corner San Hoskins contrived to plant his near post header wide of the target with the net bulging in anticipation.

Combative Rovers’ midfielder Ebou Adams saw yellow for a challenge on 30 minutes as the game degenerated into a stop-start affair.

Rovers looked to have weathered the storm, but they were stung on the cusp of the break - Hoskins claiming a scruffy goal from a corner as he turned the ball home under the challenge of Matt Mills and Smith.

Nine minutes after the resumption the impish Jack Aitchison kissed the top of the bar as he pulled the trigger from the edge of the box as Rovers hunted parity.

Cooper turned to the bench on 57 minutes – hooking Aaron Collins for Frear.

And it was Frear who found his straps – watching his shot blocked and then Adams blazing onto the bar when scoring looked easier as the clock ticked towards 60 minutes.

Junior Mondal entered the fray with 20 minutes to go, Stevens making way.

Rovers knocked on the Northampton door. Adams opened the Cobblers up, but David Cornell rushed off his line to smother Aitchison’s strike from a clever flick from Adams.

Northampton sub Harry Smith fluffed his lines and chance to put the game to bed with seven minutes to go – lifting the ball over the bar after Charlie Goode opened Rovers up.

Three consecutive corners in stoppage-time for Rovers were blocked as Northampton remained steadfast in victory.

Rovers drop to sixth, but level on points with Bradford, Crewe and Cheltenham on 35 points with their Gloucestershire rivals jumping up to third.

Northampton Town: Cornell, Goode, Turnbull, Hoskins, Watson, Adams, Lines (Williams 80), Wharton, Oliver (Smith 72), Harriman, Anderson (McWilliams 66)

Subs not used: Arnold, Hall-Johnson, Martin, Warburton Bookings: McWilliams 76

Forest Green Rovers: Smith, Bernard, M Mills, Kitching, Winchester, Adams, Shephard, J Mills, Stevens (Mondal 70), Aitchison, Collins (Frear 57)

Subs not used: Wollacott, Rawson, Morton, Dawson, McGinley

Bookings: Adams 30

Attendance: 4,534

FGR fans: 139

Referee: Antony Coggins

Star Man: Ebou Adams

Next up: Forest Green welcome west country rivals Swindon Town next Saturday, 3pm.