Cobblers boss Chris Wilder cut a frustrated figure following his side’s draw with Leyton Orient as he struggled to explain Northampton’s unrelenting injury problems.
Wilder hailed Cobblers’ team spirit and character as they dug deep to earn a point against Orient, who came into Saturday’s game as Sky Bet League Two leaders.
The result was all the more impressive given Northampton’s terrible luck with injuries in the lead up to Saturday.
Wilder lost Ryan Cresswell, Rod McDonald and Paul Corry to training ground injuries picked last week.
Those absentees add to an already lengthy injury list, although the return of Zander Diamond on Saturday was a boost while Evan Horwood featured on the bench.
Wilder said afterwards: “It’s just ridiculous. To lose Cresswell, who’s been outstanding recently, and another centre-half in Rod McDonald and also Paul Corry - players who are part of our first-team squad.
“I don’t like going with less than seven subs so I thought we may as well get Evan (Horwood) on the bench so he could join in the warm-up.
“Zander has had one day training and it’s been five weeks since he’s been out.
“We’ve lost Corry for the season, McDonald for four to six weeks and Cresswell will go for a scan. People might have seen players like Ricky Holmes and Brendan Moloney around on Saturday but we’re not able to select them at the moment.
“It’s a difficult little period for us but we’ve got to try and get a team together to go again on Tuesday. If they show the same enthusiasm and character we can go and play anybody in this division.
“It’s a difficult little period for us but we’ve got to try and get a team together to go again on Tuesday. If they show the same enthusiasm and character we can go and play anybody in this division.”Chris Wilder
“We have to play better than we did on Saturday but sometimes you have to rely on your grit and determination to get yourself over the line and we so nearly did that.
“The character we showed, the performance of Adam (Smith) and the return of Zander are positives we can take.”
For the second home game running, Northampton had to show bags of resilience to repeatedly hold firm against a second half bombardment from the impressive visitors.
The game remained goalless largely thanks to the once again excellent Smith in the home goal, and Wilder singled out the Cobblers keeper for praise after full-time.
“Smithy was outstanding and he’s been outstanding for us this season which is why we brought him to the football club,” added Wilder.
“We have two great goalkeepers who are vying for the number one jersey and you have to be a good goalkeeper to keep (Ryan) Clarkey out of the side.”
Wilder admitted his side rode their luck at times on Saturday but felt they deserved at least a point for the mental strength they showed, particularly given the off-field issues.
He added: “We’ll have days where we play better but with everything that’s gone on off the pitch, I thought we really dug in and fought for the shirt.
“We had a little bit of a go at half-time because I didn’t think we showed the energy or urgency to close them down and we didn’t get up the pitch enough to squeeze them and allow the midfield players to make tackles.
“Orient will look at this game and feel they should have won by three or four but you know what football is like - sometimes you get rewarded for a bit of spirit and character and my players showed bundles and bundles of that to keep the ball out of the net.
“I think if supporters see players running around and working hard they can sometimes make allowances when things don’t go well with the ball and the players showed plenty of that against a very good side.”