Stuart Dallas’ first-half goal was enough for the Cobblers to beat Accrington in the crunch game at Sixfields but the margin of victory should have been greater.
Izale McLeod missed a penalty on his debut, becoming the first loan striker to fail to score for Town in his first game this season, with Clive Platt’s involvement crucial in both incidents.
Northampton move off the foot of Sky Bet League Two as a result of the 1-0 win but they remain in the relegation places.
Accrington illustrated the kind of attacking qualities that made them the division’s form team going into the game by repeatedly getting in good wide attacking positions in the early stages.
But Tom Aldred was required to make a firm block for them under pressure from Clive Platt after Stuart Dallas had expertly controlled a raking Paul Reid pass down the left flank and delivered a dangerous cross to the near post.
Dallas himself fired a shot straight at visiting goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli after Platt had won an aerial ball on the edge of the Accrington box.
Stanley full-back Michael Liddle threaded a low pass into Danny Webber, the striker’s snap shot finding the side netting of Matt Duke’s goal.
Platt won headers all afternoon and the one he nipped on at the half-hour mark was perfectly into the path of strike partner Izale McLeod, who went down looking for a penalty that never came.
Moments later, the breakthrough came. Platt slipped a fine pass to Danny Emerton under pressure and he too found a team-mate as the defenders converged on him, threading the ball out to Dallas on the overlap.
After taking a touch to steady himself, Dallas lashed a left-footed strike across Bettinelli and into the far corner of the goal.
The lead should have been doubled two minutes later when Platt played McLeod behind the defence with a dead-weight pass only to see the striker go down under minimal contact from the defender.
The justice Accrington sought was served, though, when McLeod fired a poor penalty straight at Bettinelli - such was the weakness of it, the goalkeeper was able to catch and hold on to the ball.
Mathias Doumbe was required to make an excellent block to deny Danny Webber in first-half injury time after the striker had beaten the offside trap at the second phase of a long throw routine.
Webber was again foiled by a last-ditch tackle in the second half when Kevin Amankwaah slid in to challenge and Duke palmed away the deflected shot.
Platt produced a good piece of skill and cross for McLeod but a covering defender got a toe on his shot and skewed it against the crossbar.
Shortly afterwards, Platt - and later McLeod - were withdrawn and the Cobblers lost their ability to retain the ball in the final third.
As a result, Accrington had more possession as the game went on and a lot of it was in Northampton’s defensive half.
But they did not create anything to concern Duke and the victory was eventually secured.
Cobblers: Duke, Amankwaah, Doumbe, Reid, Widdowson, Emerton, Deegan, Ravenhill, Dallas, Platt, McLeod
Subs: Blyth (for Platt 72), Norris (for McLeod 77), Morris (for Deegan 79)
Not used: Carter, Collins, Demontagnac, McNamara
Accrington: Bettinelli, Hunt, Winnard, Aldred, Liddle, Naismith, Murphy, Joyce, Mingoia, Odejayi, Webber
Subs: Gray (for Webber 71), Hatfield (for Mingoia 73)
Not used: Dunbavin, Richardson, Wilson, Windass, Bowerman
Away fans: 96
Referee: David Phillips