Northampton boss Jon Brady praised his players for “finding a way to win” after a dramatic stoppage-time goal from substitute Kieron Bowie gave the Cobblers their third win in four Sky Bet League Two games.
After James Balagizi had given hosts Crawley a fourth-minute lead, Sam Hoskins marked his 300th Northampton appearance with two goals in quick succession.
Balagizi, on loan from Liverpool, drew Crawley level just after the hour, before Fulham loanee Bowie sealed a 3-2 away success with his first senior goal from an assist by Hoskins.
Brady said: “It wasn’t pretty in the second half and it was harsh on Crawley but we showed spirit and endeavour and found a way to win.”
Northampton went into the game mourning the death of the wife of goalkeeping coach James Alger, and Hoskins paid his own tribute after scoring his opening goal by displaying a T-shirt with the words ‘Thinking of you Algs’.
Brady was full of praise for Hoskins, who became the first Cobblers player in more than 20 years to total 300 games for the club.
He continued: “How fitting it was for Sam to get a brace on his 300th appearance. The boy is special. The game was hugely stretched and he finished at right wing-back.”
Crawley, who have undergone a transformation on and off the pitch since the end of last season, have only taken one point from their opening four games and manager Kevin Betsy felt his side “got robbed.”
The former Arsenal under 23s boss said: “I’m very disappointed with the result as we deserved to win the game.
“Second half we were exceptional but football can be a cruel game and we got robbed.”
Betsy was critical of referee Stephen Martin for awarding the free-kick from which Hoskins scored his second goal, adding: “It was never a free-kick.
“We have been decimated by injuries in defence but the group is very strong.”
Betsy has no doubt that 18-year-old Balagizi, who joined Liverpool as an under-11 from the Manchester City academy, will be a player to watch.
He added: “James is a real talent. He took his goals really well and is a real class act who I believe will show his quality.
“He is really young and is a player with great athleticism and speed.”
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