Northampton boss Keith Curle made every second of half-time count as his side lifted themselves from a first-half slumber against Stevenage.
Curle admitted some frustration with the Cobblers early performance but the decision to bring on Harry Smith at half-time paid dividends.
Smith scored the decisive goal in the 1-0 win shortly after his introduction, though his quick-fire contribution ended after two yellow cards.
“It was a disappointing first half from ourselves,” said Curle.
“I was glad to come in at half time at 0-0, to readjust and reset the focus and I used the opportunity to make a substitution because I thought we needed another presence up top.
“We showed the characteristics that were needed as a changing room and as a team. We were brave and energetic and willing to work, we were willing to do a share of another man’s job, we defended our goal and our goalkeeper very well.
“Harry Smith will score goals and while he has been waiting for his chance he has been working hard, I am so pleased for the lad, he deserved that goal. As for the sending off, you just have to accept it as it is for two cautions.
“It was a bit frantic come the end, it’s going to be like that when you have 10 men against a team that is just raining balls in.”
Andy Williams spurned an early chance for the visitors when his effort lacked power while Elliott List went close for the hosts with an acrobatic overhead kick.
David Cornell produced some valuable saves for Northampton and the deadlock was finally broken in the 56th minute when Nicky Adams’s cross was expertly steered home by Smith, the striker’s first for the Cobblers since his move from Macclesfield.
“I actually felt in the first half that that we were the better side, without creating really good goalscoring opportunities and clean-cut chances, I felt we played more of the game in their half and we had a real good intensity about our play,” said Stevenage boss Paul Sampson.
“I thought for the first 15 minutes of the second half Northampton went more direct with their two big centre forwards and during that spell we were caught not defending a cross properly and that is something we need to tidy up.
“It took us a while to get to grips with the changes they made and we then get caught in a counter attack and in a crossing situation.
“But after that the character of the players, the intensity of the players is there for anyone to see.
“I have got a hard working changing room, and the players are giving their absolute all, if anything maybe trying just a little bit too hard, particularly in the final third, which is resulting in us rushing at chances and not executing the finish which you need to do.”