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Friday, 29 August 2008

Northampton hang on after Akinfenwa double

Sky Sport

Northampton dumped Bolton out of the Carling Cup after a first-half double from Adebayo Akinfenwa.

A near full-strength Bolton side had defender Gary Cahill sent off in the 38th minute but the hosts were already trailing after two goals in seven minutes from Akinfenwa - the first a 22nd-minute penalty.
 
Bolton sent on Kevin Davies and Kevin Nolan midway through the second-half, and although Nolan pulled one back in the 82nd minute, it was too little too late for the Premier League outfit.
 
Akinfenwa's gutsy performance was all the more remarkable given he was sporting a bandage to protect 12 stitches in a head wound.
Gutsy
 
That injury occurred on the opening day of the season when he converted two penalties in the victory against Cheltenham.
 
Northampton is the 26-year-old striker's 10th club but it is doubtful if he has had many better nights than this one.
 
The League One side almost made a dream start inside the first minute after Bolton debutant Danny Shittu slipped.
 
Akinfenwa got clear only to send a shot from the edge of area into the body of Jussi Jaaskelainen.
 
Play quickly switched back down the other end and Mark Bunn did well to parry Riga Mustapha's effort.
 
Bolton kept up the pressure and Ricardo Gardner raced forward in the sixth minute and tested Bunn.
 
Shittu then went close first with a crisp volley before sending a header narrowly wide of the post.
 
However, Stuart Gray's side took the lead when Akinfenwa sent Jaaskelainen the wrong way after referee Graham Laws ruled that Gavin McCann had handled the ball.
 
Northampton were growing in confidence and extended their lead in the 28th minute.
 
It was Akinfenwa who got his second goal of the game when he directed a cross from Abdul Osman beyond Jaaskelainen.
 
Not content with getting both goals he then set up Ryan Gilligan only for his shot to be deflected wide in the 35th minute.
 
Bolton's nightmare continued when Cahill was sent off. Laws had no hesitation in dismissing the defender after a challenge that left Giles Coke on the floor.
 
Joey O'Brien nearly pulled a goal back in stoppage time only for Bunn to react superbly.
 
Northampton were not content to sit on their lead, though, with Akinfenwa keen to get a hat-trick.
 
Rattled
 
Down to 10 men, Bolton were looking rattled and disorganised against lower league opposition.
 
Jason Crowe was the next to try his luck for Northampton and Jaaskelainen had to be on his guard.
 
Northampton, however, were beginning to tire and Bunn did well in the 76th minute to to turn away a shot from Heidar Helguson in front of a crowd of 7,136.
 
The pressure paid off six minutes later when Kevin Nolan pulled a goal back after getting ahead of the goalkeeper and scoring from close range.
 
Bolton thought they had drawn level with a minute to go only for Helguson's effort to be ruled out for offside and Northampton went on to seal a place in the third round.

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