Cobblers beaten by table-topping Forest Green after Matt's late header
Forest Green Rovers 1-0 Northampton Town
Jamille Matt's late header condemned the Cobblers to a narrow 1-0 defeat at new League Two leaders Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.
Rovers went into the contest as the division's top scorers but you wouldn't have guessed it during an underwhelming first-half that contained very little in the way of goalmouth action.
The home side did improve though and ultimately they always looked the likelier team to turn one point into three, and Matt's header 15 minutes from time ensured they returned to top spot.
Cobblers defended well for the most part and limited Rovers to few clear opportunities but their attack again failed to fire, managing only one shot on target across the 90 minutes.
Jon Brady made changes in terms of both personnel and formation as Shaun McWilliams replaced Mitch Pinnock and Cobblers moved to three at the back.
Forest Green seized the initiative after an even start and they were first to go close when Nicky Cadden's optimistic strike from an acute angle forced Liam Roberts to tip over.
But anyone anticipating a free-flowing, end-to-end encounter would have been left disappointed by a chance-free first-half as the two teams cancelled each other out.
Town were doing a good job of nullifying the home side's dangerous forward line but, despite finding some good positions, they struggled to create anything themselves.
The game did briefly splutter into life late in the opening 45 minutes when Jordan Flores' drilled half-volley was well blocked before Rovers counter-attacked and Roberts palmed away Matty Stevens' stinging shot.
The second-half started at a better tempo and both sides went close within six minutes of the restart as Sam Hoskins' low cross was just behind Danny Rose before Roberts denied Stevens for a second time.
Whilst things did settle down again, Rovers really should have taken the lead midway through the second-half. Kane Wilson's piercing run and shot drew another good from Roberts before Aaron McGowan did magnificently to keep out Matt's follow-up on the goal-line.
That moment lifted the home side and their supporters and it wasn't long until they had a goal to celebrate. With 15 minutes to play, Cadden whipped in a cross from the left and Matt was unmarked in the penalty box to head into the bottom corner.
Cobblers had disappeared as an attacking entity for the 15 minutes prior to Matt's goal but they now had no choice but to push men forward and substitute Nicke Kabamba wasn't far away, drawing a decent low stop from Luke McGee.
That would prove to be their only shot on target though as the points slipped away.
Rovers: McGee, Wilson, Bernard, Sweeney, Stevenson, Cadden, Moore-Taylor, Hendry, Aitchison, Stevens (March 83), Matt (c)
Subs not used: Thomas, Allen, Evans, Edwards, Young, Diallo
Cobblers: Roberts, McGowan, Horsfall (c), Guthrie, Koiki, McWilliams (Kabamba 80), Lewis, Flores (Pinnock 59), Hoskins, Rose, Etete (Connolly 59)
Subs not used: Maxted, Harriman, Sowerby, Pollock
Referee: Scott Oldham