Cobblers boss Rob Page has explained his reasoning behind leaving John-Joe O’Toole out of the team to face Peterborough United on Tuesday evening.
Page stirred much debate by dropping O’Toole and switching to 3-5-2 for the visit to rivals Peterborough but his decision backfired as the Cobblers slumped to a heavy 3-0 defeat.
Joel Byrom came in as the only recognised central midfielder with Paul Anderson and Sam Hoskins playing in more advanced roles while Marc Richards partnered Alex Revell up front.
“I needed a bit more legs in the middle of the park and Ando gives you that - you see what he’s done,” explained Page when asked his thinking behind leaving out O’Toole and going with 3-5-2.
“I wanted to go positive and I wanted to go with two up top.
“With Sam, we recognised that because their full-backs play so high, it was an opportunity for him exploit that with his pace and I thought he was outstanding.
“I wanted to get Joel on the ball because what he gives us with his left foot and the balance he gives the team.
“I thought it was an opportunity for that and the only reason I took Joel off was for the booking, I didn’t want another scenario where he couldn’t make another challenge.
As well as poor defending at corners, Northampton also came up short in attack where they failed to create many clear-cut chances throughout the 90 minutes despite having 57 per cent of possession.
But Page played down any concerns over an apparent lack of creativity, saying: “It hasn’t been the case the last month.
“We were up against a team who haven’t been great defensively all season but they’ve scored a lot of goals and they’ve put that right.
“They defended for their lives, they threw their bodies on the line and they blocked every shot, something which we’ve been doing of late.
“Credit to them for that because we found it hard to break them down - every ball that went into the box got blocked or was saved.
“Some of the quality into the box was either over-hit or hit the first man, and we’ve had a couple of chances to get goals but the most disappointing thing was the goals we conceded and that’s hard to take because it’s not like us.
“I can guarantee we will be working ever so hard on the training pitch to go and put it right and Saturday’s game can’t come quick enough.”