Cobblers rewarded for 'sticking to our principles' in important Salford win - verdict, reaction and highlights
The Cobblers may not have reached the lofty heights they hit at Burton Albion in the FA Cup last weekend but this hard-fought, hard-earned win at Salford City was nevertheless another encouraging nudge in the right direction.
Salford are still finding their feet at this level but they are an ambitious club and have enough quality in their ranks to be play-off contenders themselves so, irrespective of their mid-table standing and patchy form, it was a stern test for Keith Curle's side.
And it was one they just about passed but only after doing something they've not done all season: win from a losing position.
Cobblers have surrendered too many leads and not turned around enough deficits this season but they displayed their character by the bucketload at Moor Lane after Jack Baldwin's 20th minute header had them starring down the barrel.
In some ways this was a strange game and a curious performance by the visitors, who had their moments but never really hit their straps. They played in bursts and ultimately it was a terrific 20-minute spell after half-time that swayed a tight game in their favour.
Town started well, retreated into their shells for 30 minutes, snapped back into life in the second-half and then defended excellently, helped by David Cornell's acrobatics in net, during the closing stages to see out victory.
Curle frequently talks about the simple yet effective fundamentals he wants his team to stick by, however the Cobblers still needed a little reminder at half-time on Saturday.
"The principles and the foundations of what we're trying to build at the football club were evident for everybody to see," said Curle afterwards.
"If we can pass and progress the ball, excellent, that's what we want to do, but if not, we put the ball in good areas and we get after it.
"When players start having another touch, what you find is that it delays the movement of the front players and the front players then stop and face and we decide to play another pass before putting the ball behind.
"We lose that impetus and that forward moment which we're looking for, but it was very pleasing to get the result.
"It's always difficult to go away from home and get a result but I thought we ground out the win and stuck to our principles."
It helps when attacking players find their range with exquisite finishes. Sam Hoskins fizzed home a superb equaliser after excellent approach play by Nicky Adams and then Andy Williams won it with a cleanly-struck volley.
As for the bigger picture, Town remain outside the play-off places in Sky Bet League Two but, in an incredibly congested table that has five teams on 44 points, they are in prime position to pounce should those above them slip-up.