Jacob Blyth scored on his debut as the Cobblers beat Newport County at Sixfields but the home side had a performance of supreme quality from Matt Duke to thank for the outcome.
On-loan Leicester City youngster Blyth was joined on the scoresheet in the 3-1 win by Irish combination Roy O’Donovan and Gary Deegan, whose late goal from midfield was his first since joining the club in the summer.
But it was Duke who was the clear star of the show, rightly named the sponsors’ man of the match and only beaten in the game’s final minute when Conor Washington rampaged through the defence and squirmed the ball home from close range.
Duke was imperious throughout, continuing his excellent early-season form in the game’s first three minutes, as he reacted well to divert Lee Collins’ diversion from Christian Jolley’s cross away for a corner that Ismail Yakubu would have headed in but for another fine Duke intervention.
It was a lively start to the game and one in which Newport did pretty much everything right, as proved when right wing-back David Pipe broke into space down the right and played in a cross for Jolley to bundle a shot narrowly wide.
But Northampton weathered much of their early storm and grew in confidence at both ends as the first half progressed.
Midway through it, Blyth provided the game’s first goal, beating visiting keeper Jamie Stephens to Ian Morris’ flighted right-footed cross to head powerfully home.
And just two minutes later the advantage was doubled, O’Donovan racing clear down the inside-left channel and manoeuvring his body around the ball to make a right-footed finish a viable option despite the tight angle.
Newport would have been devastated to have been two goals behind considering their start and, as if to reaffirm the point, Duke made another exceptional stop from Zebroski in first-half stoppage time.
The second half could not match the first for incident but Duke’s form remained a feature, the keeper saving well from Yakubu’s header as the game entered its final quarter.
Newport supporters were probably wondering at that point how their team was in such a dire situation but it grew worse with seven minutes to go when Deegan provided a cake-icing third goal.
The visitors failed to clear their lines 20 yards out and the persistence of Ivan Toney was vital in easing the ball to the Irish midfielder, who coaxed it into the bottom corner with the instep of his right boot.
The result was secured at that point but the clean sheet was not, as former United Counties League player Conor Washington bullocked through the home defence and finally breached Duke’s goal from close range.
Northampton: Duke; Amankwaah, Tozer, Collins, Widdowson; Emerton, Deegan, Carter, Morris; O’Donovan, Blyth
Subs: Toney (for Blyth 73), Demontagnac (for Emerton 77)
Not used: Snedker, Moyo, Dias
Newport County: Stephens; Pipe, Hughes, Yakubu, Worley, Sandell; Porter, Chapman, Minshull; Zebroski, Jolley
Subs: Crow (for Porter 62), Washington (for Zebroski 79), Willmott (for Chapman 79)
Not used: Flynn, Jackson, Bittner
Away fans: 544