Manchester United travel to League One side Northampton Town on Wednesday evening hoping to stop the rot of three straight defeats. It’s been a nightmare week or so for Jose Mourinho who has overseen losses to Manchester City, Feyenoord, and Watford in the space of eight days. The Reds latest blow came away to Watford on Sunday and now trail league leaders and rivals Manchester City by six points.
The League One outfit aren’t to be taken lightly despite losing to Chesterfield at the weekend. In fact, the 3-1 defeat on Saturday brought to an end a 31-game unbeaten run in the league stretching back to December of last year. They also knocked Premier League side West Bromwich Albion out on penalties in the previous round and will be hoping to cause an almighty upset when Mourinho’s men visit Sixfields on Wednesday.
Northampton Town 0-3 Manchester United, FA Cup – 25th January 2004
Manchester United were handed an away trip to Division Three (now League One) side Northampton Town in the fourth round of the FA Cup after seeing off Aston Villa in the previous round. The Cobblers were handed the big draw of United after beating Rotherham United via a replay in round three.
The Reds were given a soft penalty inside three minutes when a 19-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo was adjudged to have been nudged in the back by Chris Carruthers at the back post. Diego Forlan took the resulting spot-kick however his weak effort was saved by keeper Lee Harper. Despite Forlan’s penalty miss, United continued to stream forward and eventually made the breakthrough with ten minutes of the half remaining. Mikael Silvestre bundled the ball home after Northampton failed to clear Ronaldo’s initial effort. The Reds doubled their lead within two minutes of the restart when Chris Hargreaves turned the ball into his own net before Forlan made sure of the win adding a third midway through the second half.
Northampton Town 2-8 Manchester United, FA Cup – 7th February 1970
It’s been over 12 years since United last faced Northampton Town but before that match up in 2004 you had to go back almost 34 years to find the previous meeting between the two sides and what a game it was. It will forever be known as the game in which George Best scored a double hat-trick.
The Northern Irishman had just served a four-week ban for knocking the ball out of referee Jack Taylor’s hands during the derby day defeat to Manchester City in December 1969 and Best – in his own words said he took his anger out on Northampton. The Reds were 2-0 to the good at half-time with Best scoring both goals. He added a third just minutes after the restart. A diving header saw him notch a fourth and quickly stroked home his fifth while saving the best for last. He sized up keeper Kim Book and Best’s quick footwork left his opponent on his backside allowing the forward to grab his second hat-trick of the game as United progress into the next round with ease.
Manchester United 6-2 Northampton Town, Division One – 5th February 1966
The Reds have only faced Northampton four times and the meeting in 1966 was only the second time the two teams had faced one another. The Reds had previously won the old Division One, claiming their sixth top-flight title while Northampton had just been promoted the year before after finishing runners-up in the Second Division.
This match at Old Trafford was the reverse fixture from the 1-1 draw at Northampton earlier in the season. United ran out comfortable 6-2 victors with Bobby Charlton taking the plaudits. The Englishman bagged a hat-trick as Denis Law netted a brace with John Connelly rounding up the scorers for the home side. United finished fourth that season while the Cobblers were relegated after just a year in the First Division.