Cobblers boss Aidy Boothroyd felt Exeter City were worthy winners over his side but believed there was a foul in the build-up to the game’s crucial first goal.
Town were beaten 3-0 by a Grecians side who go above them in the npower League Two table as a result, and they got on the scoresheet through a Lee Nicholls own goal after 22 minutes.
It came when Nicholls spilt a corner over his own goalline under pressure from Exeter striker Jamie Cureton, who went on to score the game second goal before Jake Gosling put the seal on the result with a third.
Results elsewhere were largely helpful to the Cobblers, who remain fifth with two points now separating Burton in third and Rotherham in seventh before a six-point gap to the side outside the play-offs, Southend United.
But the loss at St James’ Park definitely represents a bad day at the office for Town.
“I thought we got exactly what we deserved and you have to give credit to the opposition for that,” he said.
“Lee Nicholls was fouled for the first goal, Jamie Cureton is a cute player who is experienced, and he just got his arm across him and definitely fouled him.
“But Lee is six foot four and he knows as well that he’s got to be doing more there to claim the ball and make it his.
“Then we’ve been done on one out wide and a set-piece and that really is unlike us but we weren’t good enough at defending those today.
“We had some chances, and it could have ended 3-3 but I thought they deserved to get the win overall.”
Right-winger Roy O’Donovan felt the home side’s ruthless counter-attacking qualities combined with a lack of luck in front of goal for the Cobblers contributed to the result.
“We had three or four good chances to score but they blocked them all on the line and those breaks didn’t go our way today,” he said.
“Then they counter-attack us and go up the other end and score, so we got done on a couple of sucker punches.”