Cambridge United fell to a disappointing 2-0 Sky Bet League Two defeat at the hands of Northampton Town on a miserable afternoon at Sixfields.
Cobblers striker Harry Smith did the damage for the hosts in the first half, with a goal and shot that found its way in via George Taft proving too much for the U’s to come back from.
United lined up with just one change from their previous outing as Harry Darling stepped back into a back three as Jack Roles dropped out the side owing to the slight niggle he picked up in the U’s clash with Grimsby Town earlier in the week.
United actually looked brighter during the opening five minutes with Luke Hannant attempting a cheeky chipped effort at goal which required David Cornell in the Cobbler’s goal to tip over the cross bar.
Dimitar Mitov had to wait until the 18th minute of the game for his first action, but produced a stunning save to claw away Scott Wharton’s header that looked destined for the top corner.
Likewise, Cornell showed he was alert for the hosts at the other end when Marc Richards’ volley took a deflection off the thigh of Paul Lewis, but the looping ball was saved by the outstretched right glove of the Northampton keeper midway through the half.
It was Harry Smith who opened the scores on 26 minutes for the home side though as the striker broke clean through from a long ball forward and duly slotted past Mitov with a clinical finish.
United were unable to piece together the early spells of possession after this point, and were slightly guilty of going from back to front too quickly as Northampton grasped control of the match.
The challenge became tougher for Colin Calderwood’s men in first half stoppage time, as Harry Smith once more broke into the U’s area and his shot deflected off George Taft and past Mitov who found himself stranded. The U’s were perturbed by the goal with Harrison Dunk down injured from an earlier incident with Sam Hoskins, but nevertheless found themselves two down at the break.
Harry Darling was out-muscled by Smith six minutes after the break but the striker, who continued to be the biggest thorn in United’s side, couldn’t get the better of Mitov on this occasion with the keeper quickly off his line to close down the shot from eight yards.
United’s clearest chance of the half fell to Marc Richards when the striker got off a snap shot from ten yards out after being slipped through by Paul Lewis, which Cornell was down quickly to his right to divert wide on 65 minutes.
Harvey Knibbs and Andrew Dallas were introduced to see if they could provide fresh impetus to could carve out a route back into the game for the U’s.
In truth though, they showed little signs of a fightback as their unbeaten week in League Two againt Exeter City and Grimsby Town was ended.
Northampton Town: Cornell, McCormack (Lines, 68 mins), Goode, Turnball, Hoskins, Smith (Williams, 72 mins), Adams, Pollock, Wharton, McWilliams, Anderson (Waters, 57 mins)
Bookings: McCormack, Hoskins
Cambridge United: Mitov, Knoyle, Taft, Ward (Knibbs, 70 mins), Darling, Dunk, Hannant, Lewis, Lambe, Richards (O’Neil, 85 mins), Smith (Dallas, 75 mins)
Attendance: 5,221 (694)