Relieved Page salutes his 'exceptional' Cobblers after they return to winning ways

DREAM RETURN: It was a successful first visit back to Vale Park for Rob Page after he left the club for Northampton in the summer. Pictures: Sharon Lucey
DREAM RETURN: It was a successful first visit back to Vale Park for Rob Page after he left the club for Northampton in the summer. Pictures: Sharon Lucey
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Rob Page paid tribute to the 'exceptional' attitude of his players after they ended a run of four straight league defeats with what he felt was a thoroughly deserved 3-2 victory over Port Vale on Saturday.

The Cobblers had to dig deep at times but they were full value for the three points at Vale Park, Page's old stomping ground, after creating a hatful of chances, many of which went begging before they eventually made their good play count.

Gabriel Zakuani celebrates after heading the Cobblers into a first-half lead at Vale Park

Gabriel Zakuani celebrates after heading the Cobblers into a first-half lead at Vale Park

Gabriel Zakuani headed Northampton in front before Vale levelled, but Sam Hoskins and Paul Anderson ensured Page made a happy return to his old club.

"It's a great win for us but the credit has to go to the players - on a big, heavy pitch they had to dig deep and they've shown character," the Cobblers boss said afterwards.

"We managed the game well today even though they put us under pressure and again that's credit to my players because we frustrated them into playing longer balls and we had to be warriors at the end.

"Lewin (Nyatanga) and Gabby to name two were excellent and overall I thought we created more than enough chances to win that game comfortably.

Gabriel Zakuani, Sam Hoskins and Paul Anderson were Town's three goalscorers

Gabriel Zakuani, Sam Hoskins and Paul Anderson were Town's three goalscorers

"We must have had four or five one-on-ones which, on another day, we'd have scored, and it says a lot that their goalkeeper has been named man of the match."

Page shook things up for the trip to Stoke by recalling Marc Richards to the starting line-up and opting for a more direct 4-4-2, but after Vale had gained the upper-hand in the second-half, he switched the system again and reaped the rewards.

He added: "We tweaked with the formation slightly because I wanted to get Sam in the middle of the park and when we needed him, he stepped up and got the goal for us.

"We were put under pressure. They like to keep the ball but they didn't hurt us with through passes and our shape frustrated them, and as the game went on, I thought we coped with the pressure and then grew back into the game.

"We could have won the game far more comfortably than what the scoreline suggests."

The win ends a run of four straight defeats and lifts Northampton back up to 13th in Sky Bet League One.

Page continued: "We haven't been a million miles away which has been the hardest thing to take in these four defeats - it's decision-making in the 92nd or 93rd minute in two of the games - so we've known as a group that we're not far off it.

"We wanted to put it right against Stourbridge and that was frustrating, but I can't speak highly enough of the players and their attitude they've had over the last two weeks which has been exceptional and they thoroughly deserve that victory today.

"I've got to mention the supporters late on because when you're digging deep and have to put your tin hats on, there's nothing better than to hear your fans behind you and urging you on and they certainly did that today."