Marc Richards grabbed the late winner as Northampton beat Exeter 1-0 at Sixfields.
Injury-hit Exeter struggled to contain the Cobblers early on but managed to keep them out through a combination of resolute defending and poor finishing from the hosts.
From Chris Hackett's testing cross, Emile Sinclair, Richards and Joel Byrom all failed to scramble the ball home and Zander Diamond headed wide from a corner.
City gradually worked their way into the game, Arron Davies headed wide from a corner before Liam Sercombe cut inside to test goalkeeper Matt Duke.
The visitors went closest just before the break when Duke superbly tipped the ball over to prevent Diamond from scoring an own goal.
Both sides found it difficult to create openings after the restart before Cobblers substitute Ivan Toney twice went close. First his overhead kick came back off the crossbar after Kaid Mohamed had helped on Hackett's corner, and moments later he burst into the box before being denied by keeper Christy Pym.
Toney began to have a big influence on the game and his low cross ended with Mohamed having his close-range effort blocked by Pym.
Northampton then enjoyed their best spell. Hackett forced Pym to tip his low drive around the post before the keeper did well to deny Ben Tozer. The winner arrived in the 89th minute when Toney helped on Tozer's long throw-in and Richards beat Pym with a superb overhead kick from six yards out.