Cobblers boss Chris Wilder rued his side’s failure to take their chances and score the all-important first goal after their 2-0 defeat at Barnet on Tuesday night.
In a tight and scrappy encounter, Jason Taylor’s sending off on 65 minutes proved the turning point as John Akinde converted the resultant spot-kick before netting a late second to inflict a first defeat of the season on Northampton.
The visitors had their chances, with Sam Hoskins and Dominic Calvert-Lewin both going close with the score at 0-0, but they were unable to convert and paid the price.
Wilder said afterwards: “It’s league two football - the first goal is so important.
“It was a pretty even game. This is what 90 per cent of the league is like, especially on a Tuesday night against a team managed by Martin Allen.
“The first goal is massive. I believe if we had got the first goal we’d have gone on to win the game and pretty comfortably too, but then we have the double whammy of Jason being sent off which gave us a mountain to climb.
“We put some great blocks to keep it at 1-0, and I’ve got to say I thought we put two or three great balls into the box that we should have capitalised on.
“It’s a tough division at the best of times and we’ve come up a little bit short tonight.
“We’ve played okay. I didn’t think we have played unbelievably well, but we had enough of the ball and enough of it in and around their box to get that first goal, which is really important in this league because it just changes the mentality and means the opposition have to come and do something.”
Wilder also felt the defeat will be a learning curve for some of his young players.
He added: “They’ve got a lot of character and play with a lot of commitment and it’s been a learning curve for a couple of the young lads.
“The first goal we were in possession of the ball and my right-back goes charging off away from home when he doesn’t really need to.
“They then break and the next minute we’re having to make a tackle in the penalty area.
“I wasn’t sure if it was a penalty, but if it is, it’s a goalscoring opportunity and Jason has to go.
“I didn’t think the referee was great tonight, but that’s not taking anything away from a tight game where the opposition have won and we’ve come up a little bit short.”