VIDEO: Northampton Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 2: Match report
PLYMOUTH Argyle returned to winning ways as they beat bottom-of-the-table Northampton at a windswept Sixfields Stadium on Saturday.
It was their first victory in five League Two games, since the 2-0 home defeat of Torquay United on January 1.
The Pilgrims had the benefit of a very strong wind behind them in the first half and made the most of it.
Reuben Reid gave them the lead in only the fifth minute of the match with his 14th goal of the season.
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Lewis Alessandra made it 2-0 in the 39th minute, taking his tally for the campaign to nine, and giving them a useful cushion to take into the second half.
As expected, Northampton did most of the attacking after the break but could not find a way back into the game as the determined Pilgrims defended with tremendous resilience.
Argyle's starting line-up showed two changes from the 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town at Home Park last Saturday.
Jake Cole was between the posts because of the season-ending finger injury to Luke McCormick.
There was also a recall for Rommy Boco, at the expense of Luke Young, as the Pilgrims went with a 4-4-2 formation.
It was Northampton's first match with Chris Wilder as their manager.
Four of their team were making their home debuts, including the strike pairing of Alan Connell and Emile Sinclair.
Boco led Argyle's attack with Reid, while Alessandra and Jason Banton provided the width in midfield.
The Pilgrims had a very strong wind behind them in the first half and took the lead in only the fifth minute.
Dominic Blizzard passed the ball out to Banton, who broke into the box and went past left-back Joe Widdowson.
Banton then set up Reid for a close range shot and the ball slipped under the body of 'keeper Matt Duke and trickled into the net.
The goal came after a clearance from Duke had been blown back towards the penalty area by the wind.
Argyle had further chances as Northampton struggled to come to terms with the difficult conditions.
Banton broke clear and although his shot was weakly-hit Duke could only fumble it behind for a corner.
Reid stabbed the ball narrowly wide of the far post with another attempt before centre-back Neal Trotman had an excellent opportunity in the 14th minute.
A free-kick from captain Conor Hourihane was flicked on by Boco and Trotman's shot was pushed over the bar by Duke.
Northampton had their first chance in the 21st minute after a good cross from Chris Hackett.
The ball reached Brennan Dickenson at the far post and he soared above right-back Maxime Blanchard and sent a header over the bar.
Boco broke into the box in the 22nd minute and had a one-on-one with Mathias Doumbe.
However, Boco had a poor touch of the ball and that allowed the former Argyle centre-back to make an important tackle.
Sinclair sent a shot over the bar, as Argyle defender Curtis Nelson challenged him, before the Pilgrims went 2-0 up in the 39th minute.
Alessandra swapped passes with Banton at a short corner and then curled the ball into the penalty area from a tight angle.
No-one could get a touch on it and the ball nestled in the far corner of the net for his ninth goal of the season.
That put the Pilgrims 2-0 up and it stayed that way until the interval.
Northampton had the benefit of the wind in the second half and Hackett sent a shot wide of the near post soon after restart.
Sinclair wastefully headed over the bar from an excellent Hackett cross before Connell had an opportunity.
The Town striker controlled the ball on his chest and then tried a shot which was comfortably held by Cole.
Northampton had nearly all the possession at the start of the second half as they tried to cut their two-goal deficit.
Cole punched clear a wind-assisted free-kick from Hackett which was fired into the goalmouth.
Striker Antonio German was sent on for centre-back Lee Collins in the 68th minute in an attacking tactical switch from Wilder.
Argyle responded with a substitution of their own as Tyler Harvey replaced Banton.
Connell's goalbound shot deflected off the head of Hourihane for a corner before Cole produced a superb save in the 75th minute.
Hackett's viciously inswinging corner seemed destined for the net but Cole somehow clawed the ball.
The hosts played with only three in defence and pushed forward in increasing numbers as the game entered the closing stages.
Argyle did not have any chances to add to their lead as they worked tremendously hard to keep Northampton out.
There was an opportunity for Harvey in the 83rd minute when he played a one-two with Boco and then crashed a 25-yard shot narrowly over the bar.
Reid should have put Argyle 3-0 up in the 89th minute but headed the ball too high following a corner from Alessandra.
That miss did not matter, though, as Argyle comfortably saw out the rest of the match.
The goals from Reid and Alessandra had earned them the first ever win at Sixfields Stadium and only their fourth on the road in League Two this season.
NORTHAMPTON: Matt Duke; Leon McSweeney, Mathias Doumbe, Lee Collins (Antonio German 68 mins), Joe Widdowson; Chris Hackett, Ricky Ravenhill, Darren Carter, Brennan Dickenson; Alan Connell, Emile Sinclair.
Substitutes (not used): Ian Morris, Roy O'Donovan, Ben Tozer, Dean Snedker (gk), Gary Deegan, Gregor Robertson.
ARGYLE: Jake Cole; Maxime Blanchard, Neal Trotman, Curtis Nelson, Ben Purrington; Jason Banton (Tyler Harvey 71 mins), Dominic Blizzard, Conor Hourihane, Lewis Alessandra; Rommy Boco; Reuben Reid.
Substitutes (not used): Luke Young, Paul Wotton, Nathan Thomas, Jamie Richards, Isaac Vassell, Cameron Dawson (gk).
REFEREE: Nigel Miller (County Durham)
ATTENDANCE: 4,845 (766 away)
GOALS – Argyle: Reid 5 mins, Alessandra 39 mins