John Marquis scored the only goal as the Cobblers secured three precious points in their fight against relegation with a 1-0 win over promotion-chasing Burton Albion at a rocking Sixfields.
Chris Wilder’s men were worthy winners, and with Wycombe losing 2-0 at Newport County it means the Cobblers are still second bottom in Sky Bet League Two but now level on points with the Chairboys, with the two teams meeting at Adams Park on Friday.
Bristol Rovers also lost which means they are only one point better off than Town, while Exeter (2 points), Morecambe (3pts), Hartlepool (3pts) and Accrington (4pts) are also within range.
This was a good day for the Cobblers, and the roar from the stands at the end of the game was ‘we are staying up’.
That remains to be seen, but Town have certainly given themselves a brilliant chance.
The game, started at 3.07pm, following an impeccably observed minute’s silence to remember the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, which happened 25 years ago.
The Cobblers made three changes to the team which won 1-0 at Accrington last Saturday.
Those dropping out were Darren Carter (suspended), Zander Diamond (unable to play due to terms of loan from Burton) and Mathias Doumbe (Achilles).
Into the side came Ben Tozer, Gregor Robertson and Alan Connell, with boss Chris Wilder opting to play a 3-4-3 formation.
The back three was Tozer, Robertson and Leon McSweeney, with a midfield of Chris Hackett, Ricky Ravenhill, Ian Morris and Evan Horwood, and a front three of Emile Sinclair, Connell and John Marquis.
The first real chance of the game came after 12 minutes and fell to Sinclair, who was set free in the left side of the penalty area by a lofted pass from Connell.
The out-of-form striker went for a sidefoot finish on the bounce from 12 yards, and made such a mess of the shot that it went out for a throw in!
On 23 minutes Burton created their first clear opportunity, with Callum McFadzean cutting inside from the right wing after hesitant defending from Horwood gifted him possession, but his left foot shot was had the sting taken out of it by a Tozer block, and Matt Duke collected.
Burton striker Adam McGurk curled an effort over from 20 yards when he should have done better on 36 minutes, but that was symptomatic of a very bitty first half. Neither side got into any sort of rhythm, and creative football or goalmouth excitement was in very short supply.
That was until the 41st minute, when the game burst into life.
Connell was first to sting the hands of Robert Lainton, but his volley after a chest down from Marquis was straight at the Burton goalkeeper.
Just 60 seconds later another shot straight at Lainton was to result in a goal.
A quick throw from Horwood was collected on the left corner of the penalty area by Marquis, who was allowed to turn and fire in a low shot.
It looked an easy stop for the Burton goalkeeper, but he dropped the ball and was powerless to stop it rolling over the line and into the net, leaving Marquis to run away and celebrate his first goal for the club.
Burton responded well and should have equalised in the first of six minutes of first-half stoppage time, but Shane Cansdell-Sherriff took too long to get his effort away when left totally unmarked eight yards out, and Robertson did brilliantly to get across and block his shot.
Lainton needed treatment for a hand injury just before the break, and he was taken off at half-time.
The Cobblers started the second half well, but they suffered a scare on 58 minutes when McGurk’s cross from the left wing went over Duke but, thankfully for Town, hit the crossbar.
The game opened up as Burton looked for an equaliser, but it was the Cobblers who looked more likely to get a second, although clear-cut chances were proving hard to come by.
The supporters were doing their bit to rally the team, and the great atmosphere was cranked up a bit more on 77 minutes when Kelvin Langmead ran on to a standing ovation for his first action since May 5 last year, the skipper having recovered from a knee operation.
On 81 minutes the Cobblers almost doubled their lead, but Lyness saved Marquis’s drilled left foot shot low to his right, the Town striker having been teed up by Sinclair, who had raced down the left wing after a good pass down the from Morris.
Burton huffed and puffed as they tried for an equaliser, but they failed to muster a serious effort on goal.
Cobblers: Duke, McSweeney, Tozer, Robertson, Horwood, Hackett (77m, Langmead), Ravenhill, Morris, Connell (79m, Dickenson), Sinclair (84m, Moyo), Marquis.
Subs not used: Lopez, Snedker, Deegan, Toney.
Burton: Lainton (46m, Lyness), Gray, Sharps, Cansdell-Sheriff, Edwards, McFadzean (46m, Hemmings), Weir, Palmer, Phillips (71m, Alexander), McGurk, Kee
Subs not used: Bell, MacDonald, Symes, Holness
Goals: 1-0 - Marquis (42 mins);
Bookings: Morris (26 mins, foul); Connell (74m, foul on Weir)
Referee: Carl Berry
Attendance: 4,604 (Burton fans 465)