Hartlepool United suffered their third straight League Two defeat when they were sunk by two first-half goals at Northampton Town.
Defences were not on top in the opening 45 minutes, with the Cobblers taking a 2-0 lead.
Skipper Marc Richards put the hosts ahead early on and the lead was doubled when Nicky Adams’ 21st-minute corner seemed to go in as an OG from Andrew Boyce.
Rakish Bingham rounded keeper Adam Smith to pull one back 10 minutes later, but Pools never really had a chance after that.
Northampton: Smith, Furlong, Brisley, Cresswell, Buchanan, Hackett (D’Ath 68), O’Toole, Byrom, Adams (Taylor 90), Richards, Hoskins (Calvert-Lewin 75)
Unused Subs: Taylor, Diamond, Lelan, Watson, Clarke
Goals: Richards 4, Boyce OG 21
Booked: Calvert-Lewin 81
Bartlett, Halliday, Harrison, Boyce, Carroll, Oates (Oyenuga 67), Featherstone, Woods (Walker 75), Smith, Paynter (Fenwick 90), Bingham
Unused Subs: Carson, Jones, Bates, Hawkins, Fenwick,
Goal: Bingham 31
Booked: Oates 38, Smith 61, Oyenuga 77
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Attendance: 4,477 (away 208)
Pools conceded the first corner in the opening minute and should have conceded the first goal but Richards headed wide from Joel Byrom’s flag-kick.
But it was soon 1-0 to the Cobblers, Nicky Adams getting free down the left and playing in a super cross which RICHARDS converted with his left foot.
Pools had their first chance on 15 minutes when Paynter found Oates who turned well before seeing his shot saved by Adam Smith.
A better opportunity followed from Jake Carroll’s corner but Andrew Boyce somehow nodded over from a free header from inside the six-yard box.
It seemed to be catching as Ryan Cresswell contrived to head wide from a free chance at the other end from a corner.
But Northampton doubled their lead in the 21st minute, Adams corner from the left going all the way through into the away net.
The left-sided midfielder was initially credited with the goal, but it appeared BOYCE got the touch close to the Pools line.
It was almost 3-0 soon after but Brad Halliday made a great block from Sam Hoskins after Bartlett clawed away a Darnell Furlong cross.
Pools, thankfully, weathered the storm and could have cut the gap on the half-hour when Bingham’s pace took him clear but Smith saved well with his feet from the striker’s left-footer.
But BINGHAM was not to be denied. Paynter released him seconds later and the speedy forwarded rounded Smith and rolled the ball into the empty net from the left side of the box.
Richards spurned a gift of a chance 11 minutes after the re-start when Byrom and Hackett got right-back Furlong into the box. His cross was deliciously placed across the six-yard box but, incredibly, the home skipper went wide with the goal gaping.
Connor Smith went in the book after the hour and from the following Adams’ free-kick, there was a great defensive interception by Paynter with Richards lurking free nearby.
Moore brought on Kudus Oyenuga who soon got a run down the left following great play by Halliday. The sub run well but his cross landed on the top of the home net.
Northampton though continued to dictate play and possession without stretching Bartlett.
Moore made his second change 15 minutes from time, bringing on Brad Walker for Woods.
Walker released Oyenuga six minutes from the end, the sub winning a corner which Pools could not capitalise from.
Moore threw on Scott Fenwick at the start of injury time for Paynter but he did not get a touch.