Cobblers keeper Adam Smith said watching clips of Danny Hylton’s previous penalties helped him keep out the Oxford striker’s spot-kick during Northampton’s 1-0 win over United on Saturday.
Sam Hoskins headed Town ahead but the decisive moment in the game came on the stroke of half-time when Oxford were awarded a penalty after Jason Taylor saw red for an off-the-ball incident.
Had Hylton converted from the spot it would surely have paved the way for an Oxford victory, but Smith had other ideas as he got well down to his right to claw away the tame effort.
He said: “I’ve watched clips of his last few penalties and he chipped his last one down the middle so I just stood up for as long as I possibly could so I made sure he didn’t chip it down the middle.
“I then saw he went right and I just went for it. That’s one out of the last three penalties that I’ve saved so I’ll take it.
“I didn’t really take any notice of him. I just kept my eye on the ball and looked to see where it went.
“I didn’t really see the red card. I was watching the ball and the referee blew the whistle so I started clapping because I thought it was an offside.
“But then I turned around and saw him point to the spot. I can’t comment on it as I didn’t really see it.”
Northampton still had to survive the entire second half with 10 men, but a combination of resilient defending and excellent goalkeeping from Smith saw the Cobblers end Oxford’s 14-game unbeaten league run.
“It was a huge win for us,” added Smith. “I think it’s what we needed after a few bad results.
“We’ve dug deep, it felt a long 90 minutes and I think everyone can take credit from the game.
“We’ve got that winning feeling back and hopefully we can do the same next week.
“I think anyone of the back four could have got man of the match because we were ruthless and resilient in both boxes.
“We didn’t have a lot of chances, but the one chance we did have we took and then we defended well for 70 minutes.
“It might not have been pretty to watch but we got the three points and that’s what matters.
“It’s always good to get a win over your local rivals for the bragging rights and for the fans.
On his own excellent form, Smith continued: “I’m pleased with how I’ve started here.
“In an ideal world I probably don’t really want to touch the ball as much, but I’ve got to do my job and keep the ball out of the net and I’ve managed to do that.”