'Baffling' refereeing decisions irk Austin but clean sheet is a plus after County stalemate
Cobblers boss Dean Austin had reasons to be both upbeat and disappointed following his side's goalless draw with Notts County on Saturday as he lambasted an 'inept' performance from referee Paul Marsden.
Town were bidding to get back to winning ways and kick-start their season at a rain-soaked PTS Academy Stadium but they were held by the struggling Magpies who started the game bottom of Sky Bet League Two with just two points from eight games.
Matt Crooks and Leon Barnett were among those to go close for Northampton before Kevin van Veen blazed a last-gasp chance over the crossbar as Northampton's poor run of home form continued.
They did at least keep a clean sheet - their first of the season - and that pleased Austin, although he also admitted his side must improve in the final third if they are to starting scoring more goals.
He said: "I'm going to stay on the positive side and look at the clean sheet. If we can keep another 20 of those between now and end of the season that'll help us pick up a lot more points.
"I didn't think our football was as fluid as previous games and sometimes I felt we were a little bit edgy and a bit nervy but I think that's understandable given the situation.
"They're in a difficult moment themselves but we created good opportunities and got into some good areas and just needed that final ball or to make the right decision because we didn't work their goalkeeper enough."
Neither Northampton nor Notts County were helped by some atrocious refereeing calls throughout Saturday's game and Austin was not afraid to make his feelings clear after full-time.
"There were some baffling decisions," he said. "I try not to get myself involved with fourth officials but today I'm sorry I lost the plot - that was as bad a refereeing performance as I've seen this year. The only word for some of the decisions is inept.
"But you've got to make your own luck and there were times when I didn't think we had enough people in the box
"I'm pleased with how the boys went about the game and how we were trying to be on the front foot and the application we showed but I just think we need a bit more guile.
"We started the game well in the first five minutes and I think that helped with the supporters who really got behind us and I think they appreciated the amount of effort we put into the game."