Walsall manager Jon Whitney bemoaned his side’s lapses of concentration during their 2-0 defeat at Sixfields on Saturday, but he also reserved praise for the Cobblers in an honest post-match interview.
Matty Taylor’s first-half header and a late penalty from Alex Revell ensured Northampton made it back-to-back wins and extended their unbeaten league run to 31 games after an accomplished performance.
Whitney offered a fair assessment of the match afterwards as he praised Cobblers’ discipline and game management know-how.
“Northampton do things well,” he said. “They do the basics well and you can see that.
“Once they get that one goal lead it’s very difficult to peg them back. We tried to get two up top and even three up top but at the end of the day, it’s not a 2-0 game but on the score sheet it is and we get nothing for it.
“The first goal is so important when you come here and that’s why they’re on the run they are because they just camp in and then go on the break.
“Revell’s always a threat because they just turn it over really quickly and get people to join in.
“They’re very difficult to break down and they’re very organised, Rob Page’s teams always are, and it’s the first goal which is disappointing because it came from nothing.”
But Whitney couldn’t hide his frustration after Walsall suffered their third defeat in six league games this season, leaving them just one place outside the bottom four.
He added: “I’m disappointed. I thought the game plan was working great 25 minutes, we were frustrating them and our shape was really good and we did a job on Revell because he’s a big threat for them.
“But a little in lapse of concentration when we put it back into the central area which we talked about not doing because they’re set to press, and then a cross into the ball and it’s a goal from nothing.
“It was a sucker-punch and knocked the wind out of our sails a little bit but I thought we then got back into it again and we were the team that threatened and they didn’t really have any clear-cut chances.
“If Scott Laird’s chance goes in on the stroke of half-time it would have been a good first-half performance but again we’ve been kicked in the teeth and we have to learn quickly because we keep giving away simple goals.”
Jason McCarthy’s handball gifted Northampton’s killer second goal but Whitney wasn’t convinced it should have been a penalty.
He continued: “When things are like this, they all seem to go against you. The penalty is 50-50 and I can see why the referee’s given it but some wouldn’t.
“It’s frustrating because it’s individual mistakes.
“We’re all hurt to get beat but we have to learn quick. You can’t feel sorry for yourselves because no one else is going to do it for you. We’ve got to do it ourselves.
“If you lose your concentration you get punished and that’s what is happening and if we don’t learn, suddenly the games run out.”