Northampton 1-0 Fleetwood
An injury-time free kick from Luke Norris denied Fleetwood all three points at Northampton’s Sixfields Stadium.
Ferdinand curled the ball around Scott Davies’ wall and into the top corner in the final minutes of the second-half, despite it being an even contest throughout.
David Ball had hit the crossbar early in the first half before being forced off with a shoulder injury, but the result meant Town slipped off the top of the League Two table.
Graham Alexander made one change to the side that knocked Carlisle United out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Wednesday night, with Nathan Pond returning alongside Ryan Cresswell at the heart of Town’s defence, Mark Roberts making way.
And with both teams at opposite ends of the table before kick-off, Northampton, winless in their last five league games, were looking to pull off an upset against the League Two leaders.
They started brightly, as Jacob Blyth’s dipping half volley from outside the box dropped just wide of Davies’ left post in the opening stages.
But the first real chance fell to Town, and Ball, with a goal in each of the previous three games, was desperately unlucky to see his effort on the turn, from Gareth Evans’ low cross, rattle the crossbar at Matt Duke’s top corner.
It was the Cod Army’s best opening in a first half the Cobblers generally controlled, and Davies was called into action when Blyth’s long-range strike came very close to him – the keeper gathering the ball at the second attempt.
Play was then halted when Ball went down with painful-looking injury under the challenge of Mathias Kouo-Doumbe on the half-hour mark, forcing Alexander to bring on Jon Parkin in place of the injured striker, Kouo-Doumbe booked as a result.
There was one more chance before the break and it fell to Ferdinand , when he headed over Chris Hackett’s cross from the left at the near post.
Hackett was replaced Stuart Dallas for the Cobblers going into the second half, with the home side looking to continue where they left.
But it was Fleetwood once again who nearly broke the deadlock, when Cresswell headed down Steven Schumacher’s free kick to Jeff Hughes, only for the midfielder to see his effort, stabbed low, come back off a Cobblers defender from close range.
Northampton responded down the left, with Danny Emerton’s deep cross finding Luke Norris at the far post – his header down at Davies should have been better, but the flag for a foul went up anyway.
It was a struggle for either side to strike the crucial blow, Cresswell saw a volley from Schumacher’s corner come back off a defender before substitute Matty Blair’s surging run ended with a drive straight into Duke’s hands.
At the other end, Norris drilled an effort low into the hands of Davies from outside the area – Alexander responding to Northampton’s pressure by bringing on Junior Brown for Evans.
Brown’s arrival almost sparked an immediate impact, as the midfielder linked up with Sarcevic and Blair on the break but could not get a shot off on the left.
Blair then crossed from the right with Duke punching away, it fell to Charlie Taylor at the left side of the area, but his effort flashed wide of the left post.
Town pressured heavily towards the end, looking to extend their lead at the top of League Two, but the Cobblers had chances to record an important win for themselves.
Norris’ fierce effort from the near post on the right was punched away by Davies, before the striker had another chance at the far post, blazing over with Town under heavy pressure late on.
And Ferdinand struck an unfortunate blow for Town with his late free-kick from a central position, the ball flying past a motionless Davies.
Nathan Pond drove a late effort wide and Hughes headed over as Town looked for a goal to equalise, but the Cobblers held on to pick up the three points.
TEAM: Davies, McLaughlin, Cresswell, Pond, Taylor, Evans (Brown), Schumacher, Murdoch (Blair), Hughes, Sarcevic, Ball (Parkin)
UNUSED SUBS: Lucas, Roberts, Hogan, Dieseruvwe
BOOKED: McLaughlin, Parkin, Sarcevic
ATTENDANCE: 4076 (144 Fleetwood)