Will Atkinson’s first goal of the season was not enough to send Bradford City through to the second round of the FA Cup.
But they do live to fight another day as their remarkable season in all competitions continues.
Atkinson caressed the ball into the back of the net from the edge of the area after 32 minutes of a first half in which City produced some neat football.
Alan Connell, who played a part in the goal, was a pivotal figure in attack, creating a couple of good chances for fellow striker Garry Thompson.
But goalkeeper Matt Duke – the shoot-out hero in last week’s Capital One Cup triumph at Wigan Athletic – also had to be at his best, saving from Louis Mort and Chris Hackett to ensure the visitors turned round ahead at the break.
Northampton were far livelier in the opening stages of the second half and they got the equaliser just past the hour-mark when Danny East crossed from the right and Mort headed home from close range.
That sparked Bradford back into life but Thompson pulled an effort wide after latching onto a pass from Gary Jones and Connell saw a well-struck shot deflect inches wide.
Duke denied Adebayo Akinfenwa on the one occasion the big striker managed to get free inside the Bradford area.
And City should have had the opportunity to wrap the tie up from the spot with five minutes remaining when East clumsily challenged Bermudan international Nahki Wells, but the referee was unmoved by their penalty appeals.
Bradford manager Phil Parkinson, who is without Luke Oliver (Achilles) for the season and fellow central defender Andrew Davies (knee) for up to four months, have signed centre-back John Egan from Sunderland on loan.
Northampton Town: Higgs; East, Langmead, Charles (Moyo 72), Widdowson; Hackett, Tozer, Johnson, Huws; Akinfenwa, Moult (Platt 80). Unused substitutes: Demontagnac, Snedker, Mukendi, Wilson, Hornby.
Bradford City: Duke; Darby, Doyle, McHugh, Meredith; Brown, Atkinson, G Jones (McArdle 81), R Jones; Connell (Wells 75), Thompson (Hanson 75). Unused substitutes: McLaughlin, Baker, Hines, Bass.
Referee: G Eltringham (Tyne & Wear).
Man of the match: Matt Duke.