Cobblers remain out of the bottom four despite limp defeat at table-topping Hull
Town did not have a shot on target but results elsewhere were favourable
Cobblers could not give their survival bid an unlikely boost when they were comfortably swept aside 3-0 by table-topping Hull City at the KCOM Stadium on Easter Monday.
Town were always likely to opt for the cautious approach and defend deep at the home of the League One leaders but they showed their hosts a little too much respect in the opening 45 minutes.
Hull barely broke sweat en route to taking a two-goal lead into the break with Callum Elder's wonderful strike followed by a deflected effort for Keane Lewis-Potter on the cusp of half-time.
The Tigers could easily have racked up a much bigger victory after creating and missing a series of chances in the second-half, though Gavin Whyte did manage a third deep into stoppage-time.
Cobblers remain 19th and outside the bottom four courtesy of results elsewhere but a big win for Bristol Rovers over Doncaster ramps up the importance of their visit to the PTS this coming weekend.
Alan Sheehan's first start in over a month came at the heart of a five-man defence as manager Jon Brady tinkered with the system.
Hull had all of the early possession and won a string of dangerous free-kicks in the opening 20 minutes but visiting goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell was not tested, although Josh Magennis did have a goal ruled out for offside.
The first-half resembled something of an attack versus defence training session with Town setting up in a way to frustrate and nullify their table-topping, title-chasing hosts.
Brady's gameplan was working well up until the half-hour mark when Hull broke the deadlock with a fabulous opening goal. Lewis-Potter did all the leg work in teeing up Elder on the edge of the box and he placed a sublime first-time shot into the top corner.
The Tigers were evidently a class outfit but they weren't having to break sweat in creating more chances and only two vital defensive interventions by Sheehan prevented a second goal.
Mitchell also produced a sharp close-range stop from Lewis-Potter but the same man got his goal just before the break when Town's back-line was cut open and his shot deflected off Jones and into the net.
The second-half was an exercise in damage limitation and trying to protect their goal difference for Cobblers, but Hull should have had their third shortly after the break when Magennis headed wide at the back post.
Greg Docherty clipped the crossbar with a long-range thunderbolt and George Honeyman's shot was blocked before Lewis-Potter missed two gilt-edged opportunities as the chances kept coming for Hull.
Cobblers had only one opening of note throughout the second-half, substitute Alex Jones seeing a shot blocked, before Hull put the gloss on their victory when Gavin Whyte scored with the last kick of the game.
Hull: Ingram, Coyle (c), Elder, Docherty, Slater, Honeyman (Flores 88), Jones, Greaves (McLoughlin 90), Wilks (Whyte 74), Lewis-Poter (Crowely 74), Magennis (Eaves 74)
Subs not used: Long, Emmanuel
Cobblers: Mitchell, Kioso (Harriman 45), Horsfall, L Jones, Mills (c), Sheehan (A Jones 75), McWilliams, Morris, Watson, Hoskins, Rose (Edmondson 69)
Subs not used: Berry, Bolger, Marshall, Korboa
Referee: Thomas Bramall