John-Joe O’Toole scored his first goal for the Cobblers as they collected their first away points for more than three months with a victory at Exeter City.
Marc Richards also maintained his excellent goalscoring record this season with a 13th of the campaign in a 2-0 win for Town at St James’ Park.
It ends an eight-game losing streak away from home for Northampton and gives them their first league return on the road since the 1-1 draw at Wycombe Wanderers on October 4.
As a result, the gap between them and the Sky Bet League Two relegation zone now stands at five points, with the Cobblers now 16th in the table.
Exeter should have taken the lead when Lee Collins slipped when challenging Tom Nichols, who burst clear but produced a tame shot which Matt Duke managed to block past his left-hand post.
Nichols then saw a shot blocked in the penalty area by Collins, with the ball breaking to Arron Davies to fire in a volley which Duke had to be at his best to palm over the bar.
The opening goal came against the run of play but the scorer was no surprise to anyone who has watched Northampton play this season.
A throw-in right next to the corner flag was taken by and returned to Brendan Moloney, whose cross was flicked on at the near post by John-Joe O’Toole and tucked in at the back one by Richards.
It was the 13th goal of the season for the number nine but he should have scored number 14 minutes later when goalkeeper James Hamon passed the ball straight to his feet.
Richards’ finishing touch was lacking on that occasion but the visitors did not have to wait long for their second goal.
O’Toole, who had been in space for Richards’ missed chance and was furious he did not receive a pass, beat Hamon to the ball on the slide to convert Lawson D’Ath’s through ball.
And so the Cobblers had a two-goal lead at the interval, which they attempted to add to early in the second half through Holmes’ left-wing foraging.
It was from that area that D’Ath supplied an early cross which O’Toole headed down but narrowly wide of Hamon’s left-hand post with the goalkeeper beaten.
There were very few scares for the visitors, although Alex Nicholls should have scored against his very recent club with a headed effort after coming on as a substitute.
Nicholls was later furious that he did not receive a penalty after colliding with Collins in the box, but referee Kevin Johnson was unmoved.
Exeter City: Hamon; Ribeiro, Oakley, Butterfield, Woodman; Noble, Davies, Sercombe; Harley; Morrison, Nichols
Subs: Nicholls (for Butterfield 60), Cummins (for Morrison 67), Wheeler (for Nichols)
Not used: Pym, Bennett, Koehane, Moore-Taylor
Cobblers: Duke; Moloney, Cresswell, Collins, Horwood; D’Ath, Taylor, Byrom, Holmes; O’Toole; Richards
Subs: Sinclair (for O’Toole 79), Hackett (for Richards 88)
Not used: Carter, Tozer, Hornby, Snedker, Warburton
Away fans: 201