Accrington Stanley suffered a frustrating day as they lost 1-0 at home to relegation-threatened Northampton Town.Chris Hackett's strike after five minutes was enough to give the dogged Cobblers all three points in their bid to avoid relegation as the Reds failed to fire in front of goal.
James Beattie was able to named an unchanged line-up for the match with Wigan loanee Adam Buxton overcoming a rib injury to claim a staring berth at left-back.Last weekend's match-winner at Exeter, Kayode Odejayi, retained his place up front alongside James Gray with Danny Webber and George Bowerman providing attacking options on the substitutes bench.In a game that the visitors simply had to win in their bid to avoid the drop, they got the best possible start by taking the lead in the opening five minutes.A hopeful punt forward by Zander Diamond caused confusion between Buxton and Bettinelli which allowed the former Millwall winger Hackett to ghost between the pair, knock the ball around Bettinelli and slide home from a tight angle.Stanley looked to respond immediately and almost did so as top-scorer Peter Murphy bent in a wicked cross that almost found the far corner but it was just wide of the upright.Lee Molyneux then tried his luck at restoring parity with a deft chip from the edge of the area but there was too much power on the effort and it sailed over the crossbar of Matt Duke.James Gray was looking lively up front for the Reds and forced Duke into a good save when he fired in a shot from 25 yards which the goalkeeper did well to hold on to.He came even closer shortly after when he beat the goalkeeper to a bouncing ball in the area but his poke past the shot-stopper rolled agonisingly past the post.For all of their pressure, Beattie's men almost came unstuck at the end of the half as Tom Aldred was forced to deny Emile Sinclair an easy second for the Cobblers.A collision between Aldred and his partner at centre back, Dean Winnard, left Sinclair in the clear; the striker rounded Bettinelli and looked certain to score but Aldred somehow managed to get himself in the way and divert the ball behind for a corner.The ball was again cleared off the line from that set-piece as a scramble in the penalty area resulted in Stanley skipper Luke Joyce hacking a goalbound effort away as the visitors went into the break with a slender one-goal lead.Will Hatfield was wiped out on the edge of the area but Buxton couldn't take advantage of the free-kick, curling it high and wide of Duke's goal.
Chris Wilder's side remained a threat on the counter-attack and almost doubled their lead when Sinclair broke down the right-hand side and looked to cut the ball back for John Marquis, who had an open goal to tap in to, but Dean Winnard got back to clear the danger.
The Reds tried to find an equaliser in vain; Winnard had a low drive deflected over the bar and Aldred headed wide from the resulting corner.On-loan Millwall striker Marquis hit the post with a header and Odejayi had an effort palmed wide by Duke as the Reds' cutting edge was nowhere to be found. It was a frustrating afternoon which leaves some work to do before safety is assured.Stanley: Bettinelli; Hunt, Winnard, Aldred, Buxton; Hatfield (Mingoia 78), Murphy, Joyce, Molyneux; Gray (Naismith 78), Odejayi.Subs: Atkinson, Liddle, Windass, Webber, Bowerman.