IF the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy means little or nothing to most clubs, Hartlepool United may disagree this morning with that idea.

Given the chance to put Saturday’s mauling by Sheffield Wednesday to bed, they made the most of the opportunity after brushing past Northampton Town who lived up to their Cobblers nickname.

After losing 5-0 at the weekend, Pools won 4-0 this time out to restore confidence and belief ahead of Saturday’s televised trip to MK Dons.

Four goals in ten secondhalf minutes put Pools into the round two draw, scheduled for Saturday morning, as Evan Horwood, Antony Sweeney, Andy Monkhouse and Denis Behan painted a happy picture at Victoria Park.

“We got Saturday out of the system,’’ said caretaker boss Mick Wadsworth. “On Sunday and Monday we spoke and I said ‘if you played on Saturday, what do you want next?’ The answer was to play the next game and it showed.

“They weren’t desperately bad on Saturday, and that may sound stupid, but we responded well.

“The way they played, they were persistent and patient, was pleasing. Yes, we should beat Northampton, but it doesn’t always work like that.

“It’s great to score goals and spread them around, it gives us good confidence.

“It was a good performance, top-class and the football we played was excellent.’’ Only 14 seconds had passed when James Brown tried his luck from the edge of the area and goalkeeper Chris Dunn pushed the shot over.

It was the start of an overworked evening for the visiting shot-stopper.

James Brown sent a towering header against the underside of the crossbar and the follow up, turned over his shoulder by Sweeney, was knocked off the line.

The sum total of Northampton’s threat was a header ruled out on the half-hour mark for a foul on Gary Liddle.

It’s hard to remember them again getting as far as the Pools’ penalty area.

Wadsworth admitted he worried that the failure to turn possession into goals would be costly. He need not have fretted.

Because in front of Pools’ lowest home crowd since a 1998 shoot-out win over Preston in the same competition, they suddenly and swiftly found the way to goal.

Horwood, a finalist in the competition with Carlisle last season, popped up on the far side of the penalty area to send a controlled volley high across Dunn into the net.

Two minutes on and the left-back took a quick freekick, passing the ball across the defensive wall for the advancing Sweeney to latch onto and by the time the defenders had reacted, the ball was in the net thanks to his low, angled finish.

Monkhouse got in on the act, drilling a low shot home from 12 yards and substitute Behan had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes when he turned a shot home at the far post.

Northampton left their boss Ian Sampson fuming.

He said: “I’ve told the players in the dressing room it was a shambles, absolute shambles."


Goals: Horwood (66, 1-0); Sweeney (68, 2-0); Monkhouse (71, 3-0); Behan (75, 4-0)
: Jacobs (58, foul)
: Robert Madley (Ossett) 7
: 1,359
: ✰✰✰

HARTLEPOOL UNITED (4-4-2): Flinders 6; Haslam 6, Collins 6, Liddle 6, HORWOOD 8; Gamble 6, Murray 7 (Humphreys 77) Sweeney 6; Monkhouse 7, Boyd 6 (Yantorno 67, 6), Brown 6 (Behan 71). Subs (not used): McSweeney, Fredriksen.

NORTHAMPTON TOWN (4-4-2): Dunn 4; Rodgers 6, Harris 5, Holt 4, Hall 4 (Beckwith 81); Jacobs 5, Thornton 5 (McKay 67, 4), Osman 5, Wedderburn 6; Herbert 4 (Davis 60), Guinan 4. Subs (not used): Jansson, Beckwith, Konstantinou.

MAN OF THE MATCH EVAN Horwood – a goal, an assist and always got forward with purpose