David Moyo scored his first goal in senior football as the Cobblers booked their place in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy area quarter-final with a 2-1 win at Portsmouth.
Moyo and substitute Kaid Mohamed were on the mark at Fratton Park for a well-deserved win which advances Town to the next stage of the competition.
But it came at something of a cost with leading goalscorer Marc Richards substituted off with a hamstring injury in the first half of the game.
Chris Wilder named a side which contained the maximum of five changes permitted under competition rules, with a first start of the season for Moyo and a first start in almost two years for Alex Nicholls.
There was also a reshuffle at the back, where the team started with wingbacks and Joel Byrom deputising on the left in place of the suspended Gregor Robertson and Lawson D’Ath on the right side.
Darren Carter and John-Joe O’Toole played as holding central midfielders with Nicholls tucked in behind Moyo and leading goalscorer Richards.
It was Nicholls who had the game’s first good effort, a slightly scruffy volley at goal that goalkeeper Paul Jones lost on the ground, leading to a Ryan Cresswell tap-in that was disallowed for a foul.
Richards then steered a volley after Moyo had done well at a short Ben Tozer throw before Ryan Taylor flashed a header wide from an immediate counter-attack.
The number nine was hunting a goal on his return to the side after a hamstring injury and made good contact with a header at a corner that Jones did well to hold under pressure from Cresswell.
It was Moyo, though, who found the breakthrough. Carter collected the ball in his own half and burst forward with it before slipping the striker in to his left.
Moyo applied the first-time shot and the ball went in off the foot of Jones’ left-hand post.
Portsmouth drew level eight minutes later when Taylor reeled in a clipped pass over the top and kept his cool to slot past Archer from six yards.
Worse was to come for the Cobblers moments later when Richards pulled his hamstring reaching for a pass.
His place in the side was take by Mohamed, who got his name on the scoresheet 10 minutes by tapping in a low D’Ath cross.
Although those two will take the statistical credit for the goal, due acclaim has to go to Ben Tozer who played an inventive little scoop of a pass which took two players out of the game and set D’Ath free down the right.
Cresswell headed a Byrom corner against the crossbar on the 70-minute mark as the Cobblers went in search of a third goal and Nicholls had a one-on-one effort saved by Jones in what would have been the game’s perfect moment.
On this evidence, other chances should come. And maybe in this competition, in the third-round draw for which goes the name of Northampton Town.
Portsmouth: Jones; Wynter, Ertl, Devera, Butler; Wallace, Awford, Close, Atangana, Holmes; Taylor
Subs: Webster (for Devera 8), Barcham (for Wallace 46), Shorey (for Webster 58)
Not used: Poke, Tarbuck
Cobblers: Archer; D’Ath, Tozer, Cresswell, Collins, Byrom;Carter, O’Toole; Moyo, Richards, Nicholls
Subs: Mohamed (for Richards 40), Toney (for Moyo 77)
Not used: Snedker, Langmead, Ravenhill
Away fans: 162
Referee: Graham Horwood