Boss Aidy Boothroyd has told his players they have to tighten up defensively if the Cobblers are to maintain their upward curve in npower League Two.
Town are now 11th and two points off the play-offs following their 3-1 win over Wycombe Wanderers at Sixfields on Saturday, that came about thanks to two goals from top scorer Adebayo Akinfenwa and a cracker from Chris Hackett.
But the visitors, who are now bottom of the Football League, produced a spirited second-half display and wasted numerous chances to get themselves back into the game.
It’s fair to say the Cobblers rode their luck at times, and although Boothroyd was pleased with his side’s attacking play, he made it clear he will be working with his players on their defensive duties ahead of Tuesday night’s clash with Morecambe at Sixfields.
“I thought it was a really good first half performance, and we deserved to be ahead, perhaps even by a couple more than we were,” said the Cobblers boss. “But in the second half we weren’t as good.
“Whether it’s a culmination of the travelling we have been doing, or the fact we have played with 10 men the last two Tuesdays, or the Bradford City exploits and going to penalties, I thought there were a lot of mentally tired players out there.
“But if you are going to be tired, you have to be able to dig in, and I thought we did that.”
Town were 3-0 up by the 64th minute and would have been hoping to cruise to victory, but Wycombe battled back with a vengeance, scored one from the penalty spot, and could have scored more.
The Cobblers also created further chances in an open and entertaining game, and Boothroyd admitted: “We had to weather a storm which we knew we were going to get, because that is what you get when you are playing a team that is fighting for their lives.
“That was us 12 months ago, and all in all I am pleased we got the three points.
“But we know the second half performance wasn’t good enough.”
Asked if a taxing week that saw the Cobblers travel to York, Accrington and Bradford could be used as an excuse for some players’ tiring in the closing stages, Boothroyd said: “No.
“If you are going to set high standards then you can’t give people a way out.
“Every team has to do the same, and you have to pick up points, and we have done that and have given ourselves a chance and I just want us to get to 49 points as quickly as possible.
“Then we will see where we are after that, but it is important we don’t get carried away.
“When I analyse this game, I know I will see some terrific football played by us, good attacking football, but we still have to be a lot better defensively.”
And he added: “On another day the game could have ended in a draw.
“We’ll take the three points, but if we don’t improve on that second half performance then we will draw more games and lose more games than we should.
“If we want to keep winning, we have to keep being clinical in front of goal, but also we have to be much sounder defensively as a team.
“That’s not just the defenders, it’s the team in general.”