Town 2 - 0 Northampton. LEON KNIGHT looks well on course to become Town's first 20-goal frontman since Marcus Stewart.

He is also ready to usurp Steve Harper from the office of most popular loan player in the McAlpine era.

That's some achievement for a teenager who had minimal experience in English domestic football with QPR until Town set up this latest League double down at Northampton in October.

Back then, the quicksilver Knight missed a replica chance to the two which he put away with such style in front of Town's vocal South Stand army on Saturday.

It's a measure of how much he has progressed with regular Second Division employment under Lou Macari's guidance.

It's also a yardstick as to how much Town would miss the 19-year-old should he collect another booking.

Knight is just one caution away from a two-match ban (so is Steve Jenkins) and it's hard to imagine Town being so lethal without the lightning little striker in his current outstanding form.

Nine goals in the last seven matches have made Town racing certainties for the play-offs and canny outsiders for the second automatic promotion slot.

It's five wins and two draws since they were last defeated at Brighton, the club currently holding second position in the table, and that sequence equals Macari's best run as manager.

With Andy Booth surprisingly back in the reckoning after only four days of full training, it's a wonderful way to be approaching the Easter weekend double against Wrexham and Oldham - especially when some of Town's major rivals have still to play each other.

No-one, of course, can take anything for granted, but Macari's men are racking up points without playing spectacularly well, and that's a promising omen with the possibility of a fresh face or two being added before Thursday's important transfer deadline.

Town can play better and, indeed, in the first 20 minutes on Saturday it was Northampton who looked the more likely to open the scoring.

They would have done so, in fact, had it not been for a truly excellent double save from Martyn Margetson to keep out Jamie Forrester and Sam Parkin after Town had gone to sleep at a 14th-minute long corner routine.

Having survived, however, and then gone in front through Knight on 27 minutes, there was never any suggestion of Town failing to chalk a fourth successive win for the first time since December 1999.

Only a couple of minutes earlier, Knight and Schofield had combined in a break which suggested Northampton were slow and vulnerable at the back.

For the goal, it was Schofield who supplied Knight; a brilliantly timed run being fed by a clever pass to invite the sort of emphatic finish which just smacked of a man in supreme form.

The sequence was so inspired that Kenny Irons - a man who knows a quality pass when he sees one - was moved to lead the congratulations for Schofield rather than Knight.

If keeper Keith Welch felt stranded for that goal, he was completely deserted for the second.

Knight was left totally unmarked to latch onto John Thorrington's terrifically measured through ball after 32 minutes, and he lured Welch to just enough angle to allow for a low pass into the corner.

The Chelsea reserve might have had a hat trick four minutes before the break when being headed through by Delroy Facey, but his right-foot volley was solidly beaten down by Welch.

Nathan Clarke with a header and Thorrington on the break ought to have added to the margin of victory, while the hard-working Facey wasted a couple of breakaways as he tired towards the end.

A volley from substitute Marco Gabbiadini was the best Northampton could conjure and Town were very comfortable winners indeed.


Town team (4-4-2)

Martyn Margetson: Two excellent saves to deny Forrester and Parkin before Town had scored. Solid. Deserved a fourth clean sheet in six games. Rating: 8.

Steve Jenkins: Made some determined challenges, both in the air and on the deck. Rating: 7.

Gareth Evans: Looks in fine form and will be aiming to maintain it for the rest of the season. Tackled well, confident on the ball. Rating: 8.

Nathan Clarke: Ought to have scored with a free first-half header from Thorrington's short corner, but otherwise looked very composed at the back. Rating: 7.

Kevin Gray: After a couple of early scares, gave Forrester and Parkin little chance to shine. Battled, as ever. Rating: 7.

John Thorrington: Sent Knight through superbly for his second goal and should have scored himself, breaking clean away in the second half but firing wide. Felt unwell before the match. Rating: 7.

Chris Holland: Did some excellent tackling back in the first 20 minutes when Northampton enjoyed their best spell. Worked hard throughout. Rating: 7.

Kenny Irons: Played with two black eyes and a broken nose after being mugged the previous night. Had a fabulous second half shot tipped wide. Rating: 7.

Danny Schofield: Brilliant pass through the heart of defence to present Knight with his opening goal. Showed good skills on the left. Rating: 7.

Delroy Facey: Ran his heart out once again in another good step towards full fitness. Northampton couldn't cope with him in the air and he sent Knight through for what could have been his hat trick. Tired, but got a good hand from the fans. Rating: 7.

Leon Knight: Composed, confident finishing brought him his 16th and 17th goals of the season in clinical fashion. Teased Northampton with his pace and skills. Rating: 9.

Subs used:

Andy Booth: (for Thorrington, 73): Great surprise to see him back but great to see him be back. Rating: 6.

Thomas Heary: (for Schofield, 86): First out for the warm-down afterwards! Rating: 6.

Chris Hay: (for Facey, 90): Made his first touch at the final whistle. Rating: 6.

Subs not used: Paul Evans (Gkp), Adrian Moses.


Leon Knight: Electric form just continues. He has now netted nine goals in the last seven matches.

Northampton - (4-4-2) Welch, Frain, Sampson, McGregor (Gabbiadini 57), Hunt, Parkin, Hunter, Burgess, Forrester (Asamoah 57), Hargreaves, Marsh (Hope, 80). Subs not used: Sollitt, Carruthers.

Referee - Ray Olivier (Sutton Coldfield).

Cautions - Northampton: Burgess.

Half time - 2-0.

Scorer - Town: Knight 27, 32.

Shots on target - Town: 4. Northampton: 3.

Corners - Town: 5. Northampton: 1.

Caught offside - Town: 7. Northampton: 1.

Free-kicks awarded - Town: 7. Northampton: 9.

Attendance - 10,783 (Away: 790).