Accrington Stanley’s eight-game unbeaten run was ended by a Stuart Dallas goal as Northampton Town took all three points at Sixfields.
Marcus Bettinelli’s penalty save from Izale McLeod wasn’t enough for James Beattie’s side as Dallas’ arrowed effort in the first half gave the Cobblers a much-needed victory.
The manager made two changes to the team that beat Fleetwood in midweek with Nicky Hunt returning from suspension to reclaim his place at right back over Michael Richardson. Danny Webber’s goalscoring cameo earned him a starting berth at the expense of George Bowerman, who dropped to the bench.
In a quiet opening twenty minutes, Cobblers’ full-back Kevin Amankwaah was the first player to have an attempt on goal but his header from a Danny Emerton free-kick drifted harmlessly over Bettinelli’s crossbar.
Dallas tried to find his range from distance, sending in a shot from 25 yards that thundered off the chest off Bettinelli but the goalkeeper collected the ball at the second attempt.
Stanley went close as Piero Mingoia slipped a ball beyond the home defence to find Webber but the ex-Manchester United frontman hit the sidenetting.
The Cobblers then took the lead as a slick move saw Dallas played in down the left-hand side and his shot from the angle of the area went beyond Bettinelli and into the bottom corner to give the hosts the edge on the scoreboard.
Joint top-goalscorer Peter Murphy found himself in a good position to score after getting on the end of Webber’s cut-back but his shot was wide of the target.
Northampton then spurned the chance to double their lead as Bettinelli saved a penalty.
McLeod, making his debut after signing on loan from MK Dons, went down under a seemingly fair challenge from Dean Winnard and the referee, David Phillips, showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
The striker dusted himself down and took the penalty himself but it was a weak effort which was easily saved by Bettinelli down to his left.
Webber then broke the offside trap as Stanley looked to get back on level terms with the last attack before the break but by the time he had managed to spin so that he could get his shot away, the defender was there to make the block.
In the first action of the second half, Odejayi saw a header deflected narrowly wide before Danny Webber forced a good save from Duke after getting on the end of Hunt’s long ball forward.
The returning McLeod was the biggest threat for Aidy Boothroyd’s side, he curled high and wide but almost scored with his next attempt.
Clive Platt did well down the right hand side to get the better of Tom Aldred and he pulled the ball back for McLeod, who saw his shot deflected onto the crossbar with Bettinelli reduced to a spectator.
In an attempt to change the game, James Beattie went to his bench to bring James Gray and Will Hatfield on for Webber and Mingoia respectively.
Ironically, Stanley came closest through a Northampton player as home captain Paul Reid almost flicked a cross into his own net but it flew just past the post.
Murphy missed the best Stanley chance of the second half when he got on the end of Kal Naismith’s pinpoint cross but put his header a whisker wide of the post.
Despite making most of the running towards the latter stages of the game, Stanley were unable to make their pressure count as the hosts held out to claim victory and end the eight game unbeaten run.
Stanley: Bettinelli; Hunt, Aldred, Winnard, Liddle; Naismith, Joyce, Murphy, Mingoia (Hatfield 72); Webber (Gray 70), Odejayi.
Subs not used: Dunbavin, Richardson, Wilson, Windass, Bowerman.