Cobblers defender Ryan Cresswell identified “missed chances at vital times” as the reason behind his side’s 2-1 defeat to Portsmouth on Saturday.
After Gareth Evans had cancelled out Cresswell’s 17th minute opener, there was little to separate the two sides in an entertaining affair between the first and fourth placed teams in League Two.
Northampton looked to be finishing the stronger of the two sides as Cresswell, John-Joe O’Toole and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all went close, however it was Conor Chaplin’s 87th minute goal which proved to be the defining moment as Pompey snatched the points.
“We didn’t take our chances at vital times,” bemoaned Cresswell afterwards.
“If I bury my one or Dom buries his or JJ scores, we’re standing here all happy, singing and dancing and going into Christmas smiling but that didn’t happen.
“They broke down the other end and got the winner. We tried to claw back into it in what little time was left but it just wasn’t long enough.”
The defeat was especially disappointing for Cresswell and his team-mates as not only did it end a run of seven straight wins, but Portsmouth’s winning goal came at a time when the Cobblers were in the ascendency.
“The lads are really disappointed because we thought we had them on the ropes at the time they scored,” added the 27-year-old.
“I think we weathered a storm at the start of the second half when they came out on top but the tide turned, we got back into it and we had attack after attack and set-piece after set-piece.
“We thought it was coming but they caught us on the break and got the goal which is disappointing for us.
“We’ll have a look back and there’s a lot of disappointed faces but we’ll just go again now and forget about this and look forward to the next game.”
Northampton manager Chris Wilder labelled Pompey’s winning goal as “an absolute scandal” after the visitors broke from a Cobblers corner and caught the home side short at the back with Chaplin tapping home after Adam Smith had palmed away Ben Tollitt’s effort.
Cresswell added: “We need to look back at the goal and see if anyone could have made contact with their players from box-to-box.
“Smudge made the save but the kid’s followed up and tapped in and that’s a major disappointment and a blow for us and really ruined the occasion because it was a big game and at 1-1 we would probably have taken a point.”
On whether he thought Evans’ equaliser was offside, Cresswell said: “We thought he was offside. As soon as the ball came in I turned around and he looked to have a head start on us but they said that it’s not.
“We’ll have a look at it but it’s a well-worked goal from their point of view. It’s a good delivery in but whether it’s offside or not, it’s a goal which we should have done better with and I’m sure we’ll clean that up.”