Opposition view: Clough hails 'outstanding' Mansfield after win over Cobblers
Oliver Hawkins scored the only goal of the game midway through the first-half but Mansfield had chances for more, denied by Town goalkeeper Liam Roberts on numerous occasions.
“The performance certainly warranted the three points today,” said Clough. “Against one of the top teams in the league - I thought we were outstanding from start to finish.
“There were a lot of good individual performances today, made up with a great team win.
"Northampton are known for being very dangerous from set-plays so it was nice to score with one of our own.
“How we haven’t scored another one after that is more down to their goalkeeper than anything.
“It was a good corner from Matty Longstaff for the goal, we try to put it the deliveries in the right sort of areas and it’s a brilliant header.
“We didn’t make any mistakes today, that’s the key. We made a couple of little ones on Tuesday at Hartlepool and we were punished.
“Sometimes you get away with them but today we didn’t make any mistakes.
“I think our goalkeeper was a spectator for much of the game, especially the second-half.”
On Paul Lewis' second-half red card, Clough added: “I think the referee has given him two yellows: one for the tackle and one for the push.
“It’s not then an absolute certainty that you’re going to go on and win the game after the opposition lose a man, that’s why we wanted the second goal.
“We were doing everything we could to get it. We got into some brilliant positions and situations today, their goalkeeper made a few outstanding saves and also, they made a lot of blocks.
“There are eight games still to go but it’s nice to get back into the top seven, especially with those games in hand.”