A spirited performance was not enough as Accrington Stanley were defeated by Northampton Town at Sixfields.

The only goal of the game came from Marc Richards on the hour mark  as the Cobblers maintained their position in the League Two promotion places.

Stanley had good chances to take a late point through Josh Windass and Matt Crooks, but the defeat leaves the side without a win in their last three matches.

Some supporters were still finding their seats when Sean McConville’s strike cannoned against the crossbar just 12 seconds into the match.

The winger was well found by Billy Kee at the kick off on the left touchline before cutting inside and hitting the woodwork from 25 yards out.

Northampton responded to the early surprise and began to settle.

Nicky Adams thought he’d found the opener with the aid of a Tom Davies deflection at close range, but his shot trickled just past the post.

The Cobblers came close again minutes later as Richards’ volley on the edge of the six yard box came close to finding the bottom right corner from Brendon Moloney’s cross.

Stanley held their shape well and looked to create chances on the counter attack when Northampton threw numbers forward and could have seen themselves facing ten men when Billy Kee stole the ball and seemed to be hauled down by Ryan Creswell as he raced away but ref Nicholas Kinsley elected not to give a free kick having initially looked set to award it.

Piero Mingoia found space on the right wing, but watched his long range effort fly over the bar.

As half-time edged closer, McConville latched onto Josh Windass’ perfectly weighted cross across the Northampton box, but Moloney made a crucial last ditch tackle to deny the midfielder from giving Stanley the lead.

The second half continued to entertain the bumper crowd as both teams looked to chase the victory.

Windass had the chance to extend his position as Accrington’s top scorer for the campaign after a blocked shot fell kindly to the attacking midfielder.

The 21-year-old looked for the bottom corner with his effort, but Northampton goalkeeper Adam Smith was equal to it and parried the shot round the post.

As Stanley rued the missed opportunity, the home side broke the deadlock through their own leading marksman.

Substitute Ricky Holmes crossed from the left wing and Richards’ header looped over Stanley’s Jason Mooney and found the top corner to increase the striker’s tally to 14 goals this season.

John Coleman’s side pushed forward as they tried to salvage a result from the match and McConville drilled a shot from the edge of the area and agonisingly wide of the far post.

Matt Crooks was sent through on goal with just the Cobblers ‘keeper to beat, but Smith made a superb save at his feet to deny the midfielder.

A break from a dangerous Northampton move led to club captain Terry Gornell having a great chance with a header at the near post, however, the striker could only find the side netting.

The full time whistle followed with the Reds left rueing being unable to take one of the good chances they’d created.