Defender Leon Barnett has accepted that the Cobblers have fallen well short of expectations this season and they can have no complaints over their impending relegation to Sky Bet League Two.
The experienced centre-back was speaking in the aftermath of Saturday’s last-ditch 1-0 defeat at Walsall, a result that means Northampton are now facing up to the prospect of returning to the fourth tier of English football just two years on from promotion.
Barnett, like many others, was full of hope and expectation after signing for the club in the summer as Town, under Justin Edinburgh’s guidance at the time, overhauled their squad in a bid to improve on last season’s disappointing campaign.
But they have struggled to get going all season long and will be relegated this coming Saturday unless they can beat Oldham Athleticby nine goals.
“I think if you look at our team sheet, it’s more than capable of staying in the league and when I came here I was being positive because I wanted to be further up the table,” said Barnett.
“It’s not worked out like that for us but we have to dust ourselves off and go again. I’ve been relegated before and it’s never a great experience. It’s not nice but it’s something that happens in football.”
I think if you look at our team sheet, it’s more than capable of staying in the league and when I came here I was being positive because I wanted to be further up the table.
Cobblers created and spurned several chances before George Dobson’s winning goal during Saturday’s defeat with Matt Crooks, Daniel Powell and Matt Grimes all agonisingly close to opening the scoring.
“It’s a very disappointing day but we aren’t judged on one game, it’s accumulated throughout the season and as harsh as it sounds, we probably weren’t good enough for the whole season,” admittedBarnett.
“That’s not on Saturday because I thought we played really well and we were better than them and had massive chances.
“Crooksy had one, I don’t know how Powelly’s chance didn’t go in and Grimesy could have scored as well so people watching the game would obviously have known who the better team was and who should have won.
“But, all in all, it goes down to the whole season and we didn’t win enough games.”
Caretaker boss Dean Austin took a gamble in the closing stages of Town’s encounter at the Bescot Stadium when bringing on two strikers and sending centre-back Ash Taylor up front in desperate search of victory.
As it turned out, however, results elsewhere meant a draw would have kept them in the mix heading into this weekend’s final set of fixtures.
“Speaking on my behalf, I didn’t know the scores and I’m not sure the rest of the team knew,” revealed Barnett.
“We didn’t know whether or not we needed to win or to get a draw - obviously Ash being pushed up probably meant that we kind of needed to win and we were going for it.
“Personally, I didn’t know the other scores and maybe I should have asked what’s going on and what we’re doing.”