Cobblers back to winning ways as they sink struggling Stags at Sixfields
Cobblers returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over struggling Mansfield Town at Sixfields on Saturday.
It was not an especially convincing win but it was deserved and the three points, accompanied by a clean sheet, was just what the doctor ordered to end Town's poor run of form.
Aaron McGowan's fine strike was about the only thing to happen in an attritional first-half, although it at least had the Cobblers in front at the break.
It was more of the same in the second 45 minutes but Town were always comfortable and another defender, Fraser Horsfall, wrapped up the points with a late header.
Town climb back into eighth in League Two and will bid to go even higher when Stevenage visit Sixfields on Tuesday.
Ex-Mansfield boy Danny Rose was available again after suspension but he only made the bench as Jon Brady stuck with the same side that lost to Hartlepool United last weekend.
To say the first-half was a slow-burner would have been an understatement as it took 16 minutes to see a shot of any kind and that was a scuffed effort by Mansfield's Danny Johnson.
Another seven minutes passed when the next shot arrived, but McGowan sure made it count.
Shaun McWilliams laid the ball off to Town's right-back, he got it out of his feet and drilled a low effort into the bottom left-hand corner to break the deadlock.
Mansfield's best chance of the half fell to Oli Hawkins but his header neither had the power or accuracy to trouble Liam Roberts, while McWilliams and Sam Hoskins were off target with efforts that were barely even half chances.
Cobblers maintained their lead until the break but Mansfield threatened to improve in the second-half and might have been level if not for some desperate last-ditch defending by McGowan at the back post.
The home side then carved out their clearest opening of the contest when Kion Etete rattled the crossbar from Ali Koiki's low cross.
But Cobblers did score the crucial second goal with 15 minutes remaining when Mitch Pinnock's superb cross was smartly headed into the bottom corner by Horsfall at the back post.
Mansfield had struggled to trouble the home defence all afternoon and that continued even when 2-0 down despite some late pressure, with Cobblers claiming an overdue clean sheet.
Cobblers: Roberts, McGowan, Horsfall (c), Guthrie, Koiki (Harriman 90), McWilliams, Sowerby, Lewis, Hoskins, Pinnock, Etete (Rose 79)
Subs not used: Woods, Revan, Pollock, Connolly, Kabamba
Mansfield: Bishop, McLaughlin (Burke 67), Hewitt, Rawson, Charsley (Ward 45), O Clarke (c), Johnson (Oates 75), J Clarke, Lapslie, Hawkins, Bowery
Subs not used: Shelvey, Forrester, Law, Gale
Referee: Robert Lewis
Mansfield fans: 1,019