Aidy Boothroyd admitted his Cobblers players were well below their best in their 1-0 win over Plymouth Argyle at Sixfields on Saturday.
Town recorded their ninth win in 10 home games to maintain their excellent record on their own ground and move to fourth in npower League Two.
The victory was one secured in controversial fashion, with Clive Platt appearing to foul visiting goalkeeper Jake Cole in what proved to be the game’s decisive moment.
And Boothroyd felt the decision by referee David Phillips to award a goal instead of a Plymouth free-kick represented an ‘evening out’ of the luck the team did not get in their midweek draw at Wimbledon, when their own stopper Lee Nicholls was impeded in the build-up to the Dons’ goal.
“We didn’t play anywhere near as well as we can but it’s all about winning at this stage of the season,” said Boothroyd, whose team play host to Bristol Rovers at Sixfields on Tuesday night (7.45pm kick-off). “If you had offered me a scrappy 1-0 win before the game I’d have taken it.
“Most of my players were below par but we ground out the result, although we were a bit fortunate with the goal. I’m pleased we kept a clean sheet.
“We didn’t have a lot of luck at Wimbledon in midweek so it’s evened itself out with the goal which won it. We had more chances to make sure late on in the game and normally we would have taken them.
“Our run-in away from home is against teams around us and in the top half of the table and our home games are against teams in the bottom half.
“But that doesn’t mean you are going to easily win all your home games.
“Plymouth made us work very hard, we had to scrap for the win. A year ago we were in their position and if they keep playing like that I’m sure they can get out of it.
“It will be just as hard against Bristol Rovers on Tuesday. It’s all about making sure we are in the automatic places or the play-offs with four or five games to go.”