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Northampton 3 - Swindon Town 4
SIMON Cox grabbed his third hat-trick of the season as Town come from behind to record three crucial League One points with a 4-3 win at releagtion rivals Northampton tonight.
The front man notched up goals number 25 and 26 of a prolific season to turn things around before half time, after Swindon had gone a goal down early on.
Adebayo Akinfenwa gave Northampton the lead with a low shot, but Cox replied midway through the half with a header.
Then he produced a lob of brilliant quality to give Danny Wilson's side the advantage, before setting up Billy Paynter for a fine third goal shortly before the break.
Danny Jackman's second half free-kick looked to have put the home side back in the contest, but Cox grabbed number 27 for the season when he turned home Paynter's cross with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Swindon suffered a nervy last few minutes as Northampton sub Ikechi Anya drilled home and they then had a goal ruled out, but Town held firm for an important win over their relegation rivals.
Northampton made the perfect start as they opened the scoring inside three minutes.
As Town failed to clear their lines from a corner, Giles Coke's initial shot was blocked, but Adebayo Akinfenwa picked up on the loose ball to tuck a low effort just past the grasp of Phil Smith.
Swindon began to take the game to the home side and on 15 minutes Simon Cox latched on to keeper Phil Smith's long clearance, held off the challenge of Jason Crowe and, from 25 yards, forced Cobblers stopper Chris Dunn into a diving save.
Northampton failed to deal with the resulting corner and Hal Robson-Kanu saw a volley deflected over as the pressure built.
And they got a deserved equaliser three minutes later through Cox's 25th goal of the season.
Northampton right-back Paul Rodgers gave the ball away cheaply and when Anthony McNamee swung in a dangerous cross, Cox was brave enough to rise between two defenders and head home.
The tide had turned and Phil Smith was briefly called into action on 26 minutes with a stunning one-handed reaction stop to keep out Akinfenwa's snap-shot from just inside the area, before play was straight back up the other end as Michael Timlin went close with a low drive from McNamee's well-worked corner.
Town edged ahead on 31 minutes as Cox took another opportunity to silence the home support who had booed his every touch.
The prolific front man raced on to Billy Paynter's inch-perfect through ball and lifted it over stranded Cobblers keeper Chris Dunn from fully 25 yards.
Things just got better for the visitor's with four minutes of the half remaining as Cox turned from scorer to provider.
His flick into space from his own half found the on-rushing Paynter, and the big striker bore down on goal, held off the challenge of Northampton skipper Mark Hughes and curled a low shot into the far corner past Dunn.
Cobblers boss Stuart Gray rang the changes at half-time, making a double switch, and one of his replacements Andy Holt had an early chance but screwed his first time drive well wide after the hosts broke at pace.
Paynter dragged an effort past the far upright for Town soon after, while at the other end Scott Vernon's shot suffered a similar fate.
Northampton pulled a goal back in the 68th minute when Gordon Greer was penalised for a push on Akinfenwa 25 yards out.
Danny Jackman stepped up to curl the resulting free-kick over the wall and past the helpless Phil Smith to give the Cobblers hope.
But it was hope which was extinquished on 79 minutes when Cox completed his treble.
The goal owed everything to brilliant work from Paynter, who bundled Crowe off the ball on the right flank, charged into the area and produced a perfect cross which Cox turned across the line from a couple of yards with his chest.
In th 88th minute Ikechi Anya fired home a low drive after Sean Morrison had headed into his path, and the Cobblers then had what could have been a late equaliser from a corner ruled out for a foul on Phil Smith.
But Town held firm under some late, heavy pressure to climb further away from the drop zone at the expense of Northampton.
NORTHAMPTON (4-4-2): Chris Dunn; Paul Rodgers, Jason Crowe, Mark Hughes (c), Danny Jackman; Luke Guttridge, Abdul Osman, Giles Coke (Ikechi Anya 46), Liam Davis (Andy Holt 46); Adebayo Akinfenwa, Aleksandar Prijovic (Scott Vernon 57)
Subs not used: Paul Walker, Liam Dolman
TOWN (4-4-2): Phil Smith; Kevin Amankwaah, Gordon Greer (c), Sean Morrison, Jack Smith; Hal Robson-Kanu (Lilian Nalis 90), Owain Tudur Jones, Michael Timlin, Anthony McNamee (Mark Marshall 71); Billy Paynter, Simon Cox
Subs not used: Peter Brezovan, Lescinel Jean-Francois, Blair Sturrock