Northampton 1 Pompey 2

Conor Chaplin scores Pompey's winner Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin scores Pompey's winner Picture: Joe Pepler

The honour was bestowed by Pompey fan Alex Read via the medium of Twitter.

‘Conor Chaplin is up there for contender to be godfather to my unborn child at the moment,’ the post proclaimed.

Quite an honour to potentially be conferred on the 18-year-old whose glorious first touch signalled tremors across League Two.

Pompey’s rivals have long been wary of Paul Cook’s work, reflected by their tendency to heap on gushing praise ahead of encounters.

A handy tactic to also deflect pressure from their own club and one which has been rolled out with breathless regularity this season.

‘I would say that within people who know their football, Portsmouth are 99.9 per cent of people’s favourites to go up,’ uttered Chris Wilder ahead of Saturday’s clash.

The Blues have not occupied top spot since September, while it has been five weeks since they sat in an automatic promotion place.

They head into Christmas in fourth position – but their Sixfields Stadium result will have left those above anxiously looking over their shoulders.

And the contribution of the remarkable Chaplin and his natural goal-scoring instinct was significant.

The teenager climbed off the bench to net with his very first touch four minutes from time and clinch a dramatic 2-1 triumph.

That is now seven goals, establishing him as leading scorer, from the forward who has been employed in only seven starting line-ups this season.

No wonder supporters are clamouring to recognise Chaplin’s ongoing crucial contribution in such imaginative ways.

When fellow substitute Ben Tollitt’s angled drive was parried by Cobblers keeper Adam Smith, there was the youngster to take advantage.

Forcing home the ball from close range, it was the fourth time he had scored as a substitute this season.

Yet it is the most vital to date, in terms of the context of the fixture and the message it delivers to the rest of League Two.

Cook’s men may still reside outside the top three but the hooves are increasing in speed and the galloping becoming quicker.

They have never been considered dark horses but the Blues are emerging strongly to chase down the front runners as they enter the second half of the campaign.

Ahead of Saturday, the Cobblers had won their seven previous matches in all competitions to march to the League Two summit.

The free-scoring side had also tasted victory nine times in 10 fixtures, drawing the other – facts which made them daunting opposition.

It meant Cook’s side were asked to lock horns with the league’s form team by some distance – and they came through a fascinating examination with an away triumph.

Enough to knock Northampton off the top of the table and crown Plymouth Argyle as the new leaders, with Oxford United looking on.

The result leaves the Blues now only three points off the summit, having garnered 11 points from a possible 15 in recent weeks.

What’s more, the scoring concerns threatening to drop anchor on any league progress have been dismissed with 16 goals registered over the same period.

A timely push from Pompey, who have now safely negotiated visits to all three sides above them, collecting seven points in the process.

The team has clicked into place following the arrivals of Caolan Lavery and Marc McNulty and even though both failed to get on the scoresheet at Sixfields, their input was still excellent.

The fact neither were on the field of play when Chaplin struck so clinically also encouragingly demonstrates this side possesses attacking ability from other sources.

In addition, Cook’s troops pulled off their latest impressive away result minus the services of Christian Burgess, sidelined by the ankle ligament injury sustained against Hartlepool the previous weekend.

Unsurprisingly, Matt Clarke was given a first league start since October in his place, partnering Adam Webster at the heart of the defence. The Ipswich loanee’s place on the bench went to Adam Barton, with Nigel Atangana and Jayden Stockley once again missing from the match-day squad.

The Burgess enforced-absence aside, it was the same starting line-up which inflicted a 4-0 victory over the Pools.

As for Northampton, they were also unchanged, with former recipient of The News/Sports Mail player-of-the-season trophy Ricky Holmes on the bench.

The winger had grabbed the winner from the bench the previous week against Luton but was not yet ready to line-up against his ex-employers following a recent return from injury.

It took 17 minutes for first blood to be drawn, initially arriving following a Webster mistake.

The youngster’s weak headed backpass to Brian Murphy allowed Marc Richards through and Pompey’s keeper had to block superbly before the ball was hacked away for a corner.

From the resulting set-piece, Ryan Cresswell rose above Clarke at the far post to head home.

On 32 minutes the sides were level through the impressive Evans’ fifth goal of the season.

McNulty instigated the move, driving forwards and clipping in a cross from the right which Evans headed home from just inside the penalty area.

It was a magnificent attempt from the midfielder considering the distance, with Smith not offering a save and several home defenders appealing in vain for offside.

The Blues subsequently finished the half the stronger side, with Lavery seeing his angled attempt beaten out by Smith at his near post.

The second half saw the Cobblers initially struggling to combat the extreme winds whipping through the three-standed stadium, Smith in particular failing to get distance on his goal-kicks.

Yet it was the hosts who struck the bar through Cresswell from another corner, albeit Murphy getting the crucial touch.

Then in the 86th minute, Chaplin, who had just replaced Lavery, provided the difference.

The Cobblers responded by going straight up the other end to strike the bar through substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

But there was to be no coming back as Cook’s men held on to record an eye-catching result and continue their fine momentum.

And Chaplin may well have to invest in a new suit to wear to church.