Aidy Boothroyd admitted Clarke Carlisle did not turn in his best Cobblers performance in the defeat to Cheltenham but says the team take collective responsibility for the loss.
Town went down 3-2 to the third-placed Robins to record a third defeat on the bounce and slip a place to 12th in the npower League Two table, four points off the play-off places.
On-loan York City defender Carlisle was criticised for a below-par display during the game, his first after serving a one-game suspension for a sending-off at Oxford United in the club’s previous league fixture, a fortnight ago.
“It wasn’t his (Carlisle’s) best game but there are loads of excuses we can make,” said Boothroyd. “You attack as a team and you have to defend as a team.
“I can start throwing all sorts of stuff around. I’ve been quite critical of the officials but I couldn’t do that on Saturday and Cheltenham deserved to beat us.
“We started well, were not particularly good in the middle and then gave it a real go at the end but we got what we deserved because we didn’t take advantage of our two-goal lead.
“You have to prioritise as you go along and it’s never going to click straight away. We’ve improved as a group but we’re still not where I want us to be, we’re still not good enough.”
Adebayo Akinfenwa scored his 14th goal of a very good season to open the scoring before Town profited with an own goal at a Ben Tozer long throw.
Akifenwa also hit the bar as the side showed plenty of attacking prowess, but while they have scored 34 goals in 21 league games, they have also conceded 30, which is the same amount as Plymouth Argyle, who sit in 20th position.
Boothroyd has no concerns about his team creating and scoring goals but admits to some worries about their ability to keep them out at the other end, a factor he feels is hindering their progress.
“We’re always going to score goals,” he said. “The irritating thing is we’ve not done very well for a number of years and now we’re in a position where we’re threatening to do well.
“But if you lose three and win three, that’s not going to get you promoted, so we’ve got a decision to make as a group about whether we want to languish at the bottom, whether we want to be a team that pushes for the play-offs or whether we want to be a team that’s happy to be mediocre.
“At the moment we’re either naive or daft and we’re giving ourselves mountains to climb. Cheltenham are a good team but we gave them the opportunity to counter-attack us.”