Rochdale manager Keith Hill believes his team committing a ‘cardinal sin’ in their 3-1 loss to the Cobblers at Sixfields on Saturday.
Dale became the 11th club to lose a league fixture at Northampton this season as the home side recorded a victory that returns them to the npower League Two play-off zone.
Rochdale fall back to 16th with a top-seven bid gradually becoming less likely in what has turned into a transition season with Hill replacing John Coleman in the managerial office at Spotland.
Saturday’s result was probably the correct one but the manner of the loss, in particular the way his side conceded the second and third goals, concerned Hill, whose influence he feels is starting to tell on his second spell in charge of Rochdale.
The visitors had pulled themselves level through Jason Kennedy’s 65th-minute goal only for Kelvin Langmead to restore the Cobblers’ lead with the very next attack of the match.
“It was a strange game and the defeat was marginal but we’re on the right track and I don’t want us to get derailed by the result,” he said.
“There are a lot of tell-tale signs that the team is improving and sticking to the plan. There is obviously improvement needed in certain areas of the pitch but what I’m seeing is encouraging and we won’t be derailed by the result.
“A lot of what we did in the game is what we’re doing in training and that is pleased to see. The manner of the defeat, though, is disappointing.
“We fought hard to get back into the game and they scored immediately after our equaliser, which means we lost concentration and that is a cardinal sin.
“We need to improve on our concentration levels in and out of possession because that was a goal that should not have been conceded.”
The third goal, he felt, could also have been avoided. Although the decision to award a penalty for a foul on Chris Hackett has been debated, Hill was frustrated by the build-up to what proved to be the game’s decisive moment.
“I have no complaints at all about the penalty,” he said. “But it came from a counter-attack while we were at the other end and that is not really good enough.”