HARTLEPOOL United’s winless run at Northampton goes on after going down to a 2-0 defeat to the promotion contenders.
Pools, without a win at either the County Ground or Sixfields since 1969, were beaten by goals by Sam Hoskins and sub Chanka Zimba.
Graeme Lee’s side had their chances and no shortage of possessions or corners but could not stop the third-placed Cobblers clinch their 10th home clean sheet of the season.
Lee made two changes to the XI, who won 3-2 at another promotion contender, Newport last weekend.
It meant an eventful 24 hours for keeper Nicholas Bilokapic, who played for the Australian side in their U23 international in the Netherlands yesterday, and returned to make his debut for Pools with Ben Killip ruled out through illness.
The other change saw Bryn Morris return to the starting XI after recovering from an ankle problem.
Replacing Martin Smith in the midfield, Morris was up against the club he played on loan for last season.
He was in action early on with a great 40-yard pass to Luke Molyneux who could not get on the end of it.
Pools were bright early on and it needed a strong save from Liam Roberts to beat away Omaar Bogle’s third-minute shot.
Bilokapic pulled off an even better stop at the other end a minute later when he dived to his right to save Mitch Pinnock’s first-time effort.
But he was beaten in the sixth minute when Louis Appere and Hoskins combined nicely for Hoskins to finish smartly.
Pools had an escape on 14 minutes when Gary Liddle’s slip outside the area threatened to let in Hoskins with the veteran bringing down the leading home scorer before he could advance on goal, earning him a yellow card.
From the free-kick Beryly Lubala’s dead-ball strike hit the Pools wall with Lubala and Paul Lewis claiming handball but referee Keith Stroud was unmoved.
Pools had the better of the rest of the first period with Jamie Sterry setting up a chance for Tom Crawford whose 18-yard shot slid agonisingly wide of Roberts’s left stick
There was an opening just before the break when Molyneux broke into the area, only for Roberts to make a breathtaking save.
Pools had another good chance after the break when a slick move opened things up for David Ferguson but his shot from the edge of the box was deflected out for a corner.
But the visitors fell further behind on 61 minutes when Pools failed to clear a free-kick and Zimba finished past Bilokapic.
Pols came forward but it wasn’t their day in the opposition box when Molyneux had a left-foot shot blocked while Sterry could not repeat his goal from Rodney Parade by flashing a right-foot shot out for a throw-in.
Lee threw on subs Isaac Fletcher, Joe Grey and Marcus Carver but despite plenty of effort and a series of corners they could not find the Cobblers net.
Northampton: Roberts; McGowan, Horsfall, Guthrie, Mills; Sowerby, Lewis; Hoskins (Eppiah 75), Pinnock, Lubala (Harriman 89); Appere (Zimba 58).
Subs (not used): Pollock, Maxted, Rose, Dyche
Goal: Hoskins 6, Zimba 61
Booked: Mills 29
Pools: Bilokapic; Byrne, Liddle (Fletcher 64), Odusina, Sterry, Morris (Grey 64), Featherstone, Crawford (Carver 80), Ferguson; Molyneux, Bogle
Subs: Boyes, Ogle, Smith, Shelton, Fletcher, Carver, Grey
Booked: Liddle 15, Bogle 82, Sterry 88, Featherstone 89
Referee: Keith Stroud
Att: 5,673 (away 320)