Caretaker manager Paul Wilkinson was encouraged by what he saw from the Cobblers on Saturday despite their 2-1 defeat to Scunthorpe United.
Kevin Van Veen nodded United ahead against the run of play midway through the first-half but Northampton responded well and got back on level terms through Alex Revell’s well-directed header.
Both sides had opportunities to take all three points thereafter but it seemed the game would end level, only for Josh Morris to score a superb goal six minutes from time to condemn the Cobblers to a fifth straight home league defeat.
It leaves Town now just five points adrift of relegation, but Wilkinson, who took charge of Saturday’s game with incoming manager Justin Edinburgh watching from the stands, was encouraged by the performance despite evident frustration at the result.
He said: “It was another frustrating and disappointing afternoon.
“We expected a good response after last week’s display at Bristol Rovers, they knew that wasn’t good enough, and I think we got that and on another day we could have won the game.
“We controlled a lot of the game but we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities and we’ve given away two poor goals. A team at the top of the table will always punish you when you make mistakes and Scunthorpe did that.
“We got back into the game after going behind, the players responded well. But we keep getting into positions where we have to chase games.
“Josh Morris is a special player this season for Scunthorpe and there are not many players who can put the ball in the top corner from 25 yards. But it came from us not being able to deal with a long ball into the box which is frustrating and that is costing us at the moment.”
It’s now 10 defeats in 12 for Northampton and now they faced a huge game against fellow strugglers Milton Keynes Dons next weekend.
Wilkinson added: “Once you are on a run like this it’s hard get out of and we’ve just got to make sure we’re more ruthless in both penalty areas.
“They know they are going to have to fight and scrap for every point in the second half of the season. They have to perform well in every game but they’ve done that in the last seven or eight of the games and come out on the wrong side of it.
“They have to make sure that every Saturday they find a way to come out on top.”