HARTLEPOOL United have tonight been thumped 5-1 away to Northampton Town in Sky Bet League Two.
The home side were full value for the comprehensive win and, in truth, it could easily have been more as Pools endured a miserable night in Northampton.
Pools had gotten off to the perfect start in the first minute thanks to a composed finish from Charlie Wyke - who was later carried off with a serious looking head injury.
Colin Cooper’s side couldn’t hold onto the lead for long though and Chris Wilder’s Northampton rocked Pools with three first-half goals from Marc Richards and a brace from Kaid Mohamed.
It was a frantic and entertaining opening 45 minutes but Pools went into the break trailing 3-1.
The next goal was going to be crucial and the home side got it through Lawson D’Ath.
Richards then got his second and Northampton’s fifth to round off a thoroughly miserable night for Pools.
Colin Cooper made just one change with Stuart Parnaby in for Jordan Richards at right back.
New loan signing, goalkeeper Freddie Woodman, signed on a month-long loan deal from Newcastle United today and was named on the bench.
It had all started so well for Pools - who hadn’t won at Northampton Town since 1969.
WYKE took advantage of a clinical through ball from Tommy Miller before a composed low finish past Jordan Archer in only the first minute.
The goal was recorded at just 46 seconds.
The pace of the game barely settled in the opening 10 minutes and it wasn’t long before Town drew level from the penalty spot.
Neil Austin lost out at left-back and the ball was cut across the penalty area by Marc Richards towards Kaid Mohamed.
He was cut down by Parnaby in the 12th minute.
It was a clear foul and RICHARDS stepped up to fire a firm shot to the left of Flinders, who dived the right way but couldn’t stop it.
There was barely time to draw breath.
Twenty minutes in and Chris Wilder’s Northampton had taken the lead.
Chris Hackett crossed from the right flank to the edge of the box and MOHAMED drilled it past Flinders to make it 2-1 Town.
It was a sickening blow for Pools after taking the lead so early on in the match.
There was then a lengthy stoppage in play after to allow Wyke to receive treatment inside the penalty area.
The on-loan Middlesbrough forward was on the receiving end of a heavy blow to the back of his head and after treatment from both physios and paramedics he was stretchered off.
Marlon Harewood his replacement from the bench.
With 33 minutes gone Pools had an excellent chance to pull level, Harewood with the backheel to Jack Compton who flashed a shot which was just inches wide of the right-hand post.
They were made to pay moments later.
Hackett again was given too much time and space on the right wing to chip a cross towards the back post where dangerman MOHAMED got up above Parnaby to head in from a yard.
It was too easy and Pools were now 3-1 down.
Six minutes of added-on time was signalled, as a result of the injury to Wyke mid-way through the first half.
Town had further chances to add to the scoring as the game approached half-time, Mohamed with a looping header from a corner just over the bar.
Half-time: Northampton Town 3 Pools 1
Town started the second-half strongly, looking to capitalise on their 3-1 half-time lead at the Sixfields Stadium.
Seven minutes into the half Joel Byrom tested Flinders from distance but the keeper dived to his left to make the save.
It was a more even second-half with both sides enjoying their share of possession.
The first-half had been frantic but the second was a slower pace, which suited the home side who had a 3-1 lead.
Mid-way through the second-half Compton and Brobbel swapped wings and Pools needed to utilise them more.
The next goal was always going to be crucial and it went to the home side in the 67th minute.
Hackett, again, with good work down the right wing. His deep cross found Lawson D’ATH who beat Parnaby to the ball, took a touch and finished it low past Flinders.
Poor defending again from Pools with another cross not dealt with.
Hackett - who had a hat-trick of assists for the home side - was subbed off with 20 minutes left to play.
In the 76th minute it was 5-1 to Town.
A Town move on the half-way line took Compton and Parnaby out of the game and the ball eventually fell to Richards who cut inside before curling a beauty past Flinders from 25-yards.
It was a fine finish but added salt to an already gaping Pools wound.
Brobbel then curled a right-footed effort on goal with ten minutes to play but it was comfortably dealt with by Archer.
Then immediately Northampton broke upfield and Mohamed had another shot on target, this time high over the bar.
Shellshocked Pools needed someone to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
Ivan Toney then tried his luck from distance but it didn’t dip enough in time as it whistled over Flinders’ crossbar.
For a side that had gone into the game on the back of successive clean sheets, it was an awful defensive display from Cooper’s side.
Northampton were full value for their 5-1 win and it could have been more.
Another night on the road to forget for Hartlepool United.
Full-Time: Northampton Town 5 Pools 1
Pools (4-4-2): Flinders, Austin, Bates (C), Harrison, Parnaby (Richards 77), Brobbel, Miller, Walker, Compton, Franks (Woods, 88), Wyke (Harewood 28).
Subs Not Used: Woodman, Holden, Collins, Jones.
Goals: Wyke (1)
Northampton (4-4-2): Archer, Alfei, Robertson, Cresswell, Diamond (C) (Collins, 41), Mohamed, Hackett (Toney, 73), D’Ath, Bryom, Watson, Richards (O’Toole 84).
Subs Not Used: Snedker, Carter, Tozer, Ravenhill.
Goals: Richards (12, 76), Mohamed (20,35), D’Ath (67),
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)
Attendance: 3,653 (130)
Sixfields Stadium, Northampton.