BILLY McKAY'S second senior goal ended a two-month winless run for the Cobblers at the expense of Dagenham & Redbridge.
The substitute striker swooped in the 88th-minute to settle a decidedly low-key Boxing Day encounter at Sixfields.
Town survived a missed Mark Arber penalty on 79 minutes after the linesman had adjudged Andy Holt to have handled a right-wing cross into the box.
And Adam Miller also crashed a shot against the crossbar in a second half that was substantially better than the first.
But the lack of entertainment will be of no concern to the Cobblers, who picked up three league points for the first time since October 24.
COBBLERS: Dunn, Johnson, Hinton, Beckwith, Gilbert, Rodgers (Osman 83), Curtis (Guttridge 63), Gilligan, Holt, Herbert (McKay 69), Akinfenwa. Subs not used: Benjamin, McCready, Harris, Lumley
DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE: Roberts, Ofori-Twumasi, Doe, Arber, Green (Thomas 76), Nurse, Scott, Benson, Miller, Gain, Day. Subs not used: Currie, Ogogo, Montgomery, Spiller, Tejan-Sie, Lewington
AWAY FANS: 277