A Cobblers side lacking any kind of confidence ground out a goalless draw with Morecambe at Sixfields.
Town collected their first clean sheet of the campaign and a fifth league point but displayed very little attacking content in a game that ended 0-0.
In fact, Morecambe could rightly claim to have enjoyed the better of the game, with former Northampton defender Mark Hughes putting in a very good performance at the heart of the visitors’ defence.
The Cobblers made a lively start to the game and forced a corner after good interplay down the right wing saw O’Donovan have an attempt blocked at the front post.
Toney was lively right from the start, having the confidence to take players on and make space for an early shot that he dragged wide of the target.
Padraig Amond almost capitalised on a break in grand style, bursting clear of the defence but rushing his left-footed shot as Paul Reid began to cover, driving it across Duke and wide of the target.
Carter played Toney in perfectly as Town broke from a Morecambe corner but the teenager’s touch allowed Andy Parrish the space to get a block in.
Toney’s persistence then created an opening for O’Donovan and although he manipulated the ball for a shot that squirmed wide of Barry Roche’s left-hand post.
While they played well in the first half, though, the Cobblers were not as substantial a force in the second.
Morecambe had already created a couple of attacking opportunities when Mark Hughes, back at the ground that was his home for two years, found space at a Ryan Williams corner to power a header at goal that Carter blocked on the line.
Kevin Ellison followed the effort up and saw his headed effort tipped away from close range by Matt Duke.
Some heroic defending followed - a block from at least two defenders to deny Jack Sampson and a good piece of ‘stand up jockeying’ by Mathias Doumbe to move Williams away from the danger zone.
The response was reasonably good, as O’Donovan supplied a right-wing cross that Toney was inches away from connecting with on the stretch.
This was a day, though, for defenders, and with both back lines playing well the most likely outcome duly arrived in the form of a scoreless draw.
Cobblers: Duke, Amankwaah, Reid, Doumbe, Collins, Hackett, Deegan, Carter, Morris, Morris, O’Donovan, Toney
Subs: Tozer (for Toney 74), Emerton (for Carter 81)
Not used: Widdowson, Demontagnac, Hooper,, McNamara, Harriott
Morecambe: Roche, Wright, Parrish, Hughes, Diagne, Amond, Drummond, Williams, Kenyon, Ellison, Sampson
Subs: Mwaslie (for Sampson 86)
Not used: Fleming, Bell, McGee, McGowan, Doyle, Arestidou
Away fans: 93