Cobblers assistant manager Alan Knill felt Northampton deserved their 1-0 win at rivals Oxford United this evening after his side carried out the game plan to perfection.
In a tight and even encounter, Marc Richards’ penalty on the hour-mark was the decisive moment as he slammed home from 12 yards after Johnny Mullins had handled in the penalty area.
Oxford attempted a fightback but Adam Smith was rarely troubled in the away goal and the Cobblers clung onto victory to move a seismic 18 points clear of fourth place.
Knill said afterwards: “We’re delighted. We came with a plan and we thought we executed it really well tonight.
“We were fully of energy and full of life and I think over the balance of play, I thought we deserved the win.
“We wanted to press but that’s what we’ve been doing all season.
“We watched a few of their games and a lot of teams have dropped off them but we didn’t want to do that - we wanted to play our game and impose ourselves on them and I thought we did that really well.
“From the warm-up tonight, we felt we could do something here and come and get a result against a really good side and we did enough to get it.
“I have to say, it was a really good game. It was end-to-end, both teams have lots of good players and it was a really enjoyable game to watch and a fantastic result for us.”
Knill was particularly pleased with how the Cobblers defended as they kept a third successive clean sheet.
He added: “We defended excellently tonight and that’s our third clean sheet in a row. We spoke about it before the turn of the match - if we’re going to get promoted we have to stop the goals going in.
“It’s been a fantastic effort as a whole team and especially the defenders. We defend from the front by putting pressure on and it’s working really well at the moment and hopefully we can continue that.”
Knill also played down any fears over Richards after the skipper was taken off midway through the second half.
“It was just precautionary,” added Town’s assistant. “We thought he was tiring and we looked at him and he said he was tiring.
“We’ve got a load of games coming up so it was just a precaution and we’re fortunate to have a really strong bench and it didn’t affect us too much.”