Cobblers manager Chris Wilder described Portsmouth’s late winner as an “absolute scandal” as his side’s excellent run of form was ended by a 2-1 defeat at Sixfields this afternoon.
Ryan Cresswell’s powerful header had Northampton ahead on 17 minutes but Gareth Evans equalised with a header of his own to take the teams into half-time all square.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between in the second period as John-Joe O’Toole and Ryan Cresswell both spurned Northampton’s best openings but just as the game looked set to end level, Pompey substitute Conor Chaplin scored an 87th minute winner with his very first touch as Portsmouth counter-attacked from a Cobblers corner.
“It’s an absolute scandal that they’ve scored from our corner,” lamented Wilder afterwards.
“He’s gone from 70 yards to score a goal and there’s no way that should happen from our corner.
“We’ve not organised ourselves properly, they then broke on us and the next minute the ball has gone 100 yards and it’s in the back of the net.
“It’s not us being negative but we had to play cautiously in that period without over-committing because they played the conditions better than us.
“We’d have taken a point and moved on - that’s not being negative.
“They’ve not had to work hard for their winning goal and that was the most disappointing thing.”
The defeat means Northampton’s time atop Sky Bet League Two was short-lived with Plymouth bagging a late 2-1 win against Hartlepool to ensure they will top the table at Christmas.
But rather than focus on the league table, Wilder was keen to focus on his own disappointment following this defeat, Town’s first league loss since October 17.
He added: “It’s really disappointing because I don’t like losing and the players don’t either.
“i thought it was a really good game of football. They could score, we could score and I think we deservedly got our noses in front because we were outstanding for the first 20 to 25 minutes.
“We had a great opportunity to score again and make it 2-0 but knowing the quality of their players on the break and how outstanding their front four are, it was was a real difficult situation for us.
“We wanted to take the game to them but we knew they could play and they have threats and it was a great goal for their equaliser.
“It looked offside but it was fine margins between two sides at the top of the league.
“The wind machine picked up second half and it was difficult for us to get out because they pressed really well and stopped the forward balls.
“That allowed them to play high up the pitch and they were better than us for 25 minutes of the second half but then I thought we weathered the storm and got ourselves a foothold back in the game.
“We hit the bar and John-Joe should have scored and we looked as if we got ourselves going again and could have won it, but while knowing all the time that one ball, one counter-attack with the pace they’ve got, they can hurt you.”