The home side started well, Adeabayo Akinfenwa headed straight at Matt Duke from Joe Widdowson's cross and the City keeper also saved from Louis Moult following a Chris Hackett cross.
The Cobblers twice went close in quick succession from an Emyr Huws' corner, Kelvin Langmead had a shot blocked by Carl McHugh and Hackett was denied by Duke.
Garry Thompson went close before City broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute when Connell set up Will Atkinson on the edge of the box and he fired past Higgs.
The home side went close before the break with Moult and Akinfenwa both having efforts blocked and shortly after the restart Hackett was thwarted by Duke. But Cobblers got back on level terms in the 61st minute when Moult headed home a cross from Danny East.
Connell went close to restoring City's advantage when he was denied by Higgs who also thwarted substitute Nahki Wells while Atkinson had a shot blocked by Langmead. Akinfenwa twice tested Duke at the other end as both teams went for the winner.