Sam Hoskins scored an 88th-minute winner as Cobblers made it back-to-back League One victories with an excellent 1-0 win on the road to Cheltenham Town at the Completely-Suzuki Stadium on Saturday.
Town dominated most of the game in Gloucestershire but were devoid of quality in the final third until two minutes from normal time when Hoskins got in behind Cheltenham’s defence and drilled home his third goal of the season, lifting his team to seven points from five games and 13th spot in the table.
Cobblers enjoyed 60 per cent of possession and took 10 shots to Cheltenham’s one in a one-sided first half at Whaddon Road but there was nothing to separate the teams at the break.
The second period was more even and the game looked to be petering towards a goalless draw when Hoskins latched onto a defensive error and scored another late goal, the third game running that Cobblers have struck a decisive blow in the closing stages.
It’s also back-to-back clean sheets for Northampton and they were good value for all three points on the balance of play given they were the team who pushed for victory and made the majority of the running bar a brief period in the second half.
Louis Appéré replaced Tyreece Simpson up front and Shaun McWilliams was back from injury to take a place on the bench, but otherwise Jon Brady went with the same team and squad that beat Peterborough last weekend.
Cobblers made a strong start as Appéré latched onto a short back pass but was crowded out before Jon Guthrie failed to generate enough power on his shot when presented with a decent chance in the middle of the penalty box.
Cheltenham came back into it but Town were dominating possession and cut through their hosts with a couple of flowing moves, one of which culminated in Patrick Brough firing a shot narrowly over the angle of post and bar.
Kieron Bowie also shot over before the visitors came within inches of opening the scoring when Sam Sherring’s glancing header from Marc Leonard’s corner rattled the crossbar.
A couple of penalty shouts were waved away in first half stoppage-time and the pattern of the game remained the same after the restart with Brough flashing a dangerous cross-shot across the six-yard box and wide.
Cobblers were controlling the game and doing so much right but that final missing bit continued to elude them as Appéré’s teasing low cross was just beyond the reach of substitute Simpson.
It took until the hour-mark but eventually Cheltenham woke up and started to threaten as Liam Sercombe and Will Ferry had a go from range before a free-kick on the edge of the box was drilled into the wall.
Aidan Keena’s header was blocked by Sherring and Town’s quality in the final third was deteriorating as the clock ticked past 80 minutes. But there was to be more late drama and it was no surprise that Hoskins provided it.
Sherring’s long ball forward was missed by a defender and Hoskins seized on it, driving into the box before firing low and hard past Luke Southwood for what proved to be the winning goal.
Cheltenham: Southwood, D’Auria-Henry, Long ©, Davies (Sambu 90), Freestone, Ferry, Sercombe, Thompson (Williams 79), Bonds (Adshead 90), Keena, Street
Subs not used: Harris, Bradbury, Bevan
Cobblers: Thompson, Odimayo (Monthé 84), Sherring, Guthrie ©, Brough, Sowerby (McWilliams 84), Leonard, Pinnock (Lintott 84), Hoskins, Bowie (Simpson 57), Appéré (Hondermarck 67)
Subs not used: Dadge, Dyche
Referee: Tom Nield