Saturday’s second-half collapse and subsequent defeat at home to Scunthorpe United has not dented the growing confidence within the Cobblers camp, according to vice-skipper David Buchanan.
On the back of three straight league wins and a strong first-half showing, there was every reason to believe the Cobblers would make it four in a row coming out for the second 45 minutes of their clash with promotion-chasing Scunthorpe at Sixfields.
But it was not to be. Instead, without key man John-Joe O’Toole who had been forced off through injury, Town lost their way and were soundly beaten, leaving them back in the Sky Bet League One relegation zone.
“It’s disappointing and a disappointing second-half really,” admitted Buchanan.
“If I’m honest, I thought we deserved to be up at half-time but football games last 96 plus minutes.
“They had one great chance which I managed to get off the line but I think in the first-half we had the more clear-cut chances.
On reflection, they might think it’s a clear 3-0 but I don’t think it was a 3-0 game - they’ve punished us and they haven’t had to work hard for any of the goals.
“But we never started in the second-half and you’ll get punished against teams who are solid and who keep going and they’re used to winning football matches. They were right up there last season and they punished us.”
The manner of their second-half performance was especially dispiriting given that Northampton had offered great encouragement in a promising 45 minutes.
Matt Crooks and O’Toole both went close while Billy Waters and Matt Grimes tested visiting goalkeeper Matt Gilks before Chris Long wasted a great chance at 2-0.
“Goals change games, it’s the oldest cliche in the world,” added Buchanan. “If we go 1-0 up it’s a totally different game and if Longy scores that chance, we get back into it.
“I don’t know why it (second-half performance) was but it’s something we’ve got to get out of our system.
“We haven’t done that for a number of weeks. The level of the performances have been very much improved since the start of the season.
“On reflection, they might think it’s a clear 3-0 but I don’t think it was a 3-0 game - they’ve punished us and they haven’t had to work hard for any of the goals.
“Fair play to them they go away with three points which, you’ve got to say, is fully deserved.”
One of the several tragedies of Town’s second-half nightmare was that it meant Buchanan’s miraculous goal-line clearance, denying Duane Holmes a certain goal at 0-0, ultimately counted for nothing.
“That’s my job - I wish I had managed to get back for the second two goals,” he added.
“I’m in the team to make good defensive contributions. When he hit it, I still thought it was going in the back of the net but luckily I managed to keep it off the line.
“But it means nothing. We’ve been beaten 3-0 and we’ve conceded three goals and as a defender I’m going away disappointed.”
Two key games await the Cobblers this week as they travel to Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday before entertaining Bury at Sixfields, and Buchanan insists confidence is still high despite Saturday’s setback.
“We win and lose as a team and now we’ll regroup because we’ve got a massive game against Plymouth and then we’ve got Bury next week,” he continued.
“It’s two big games against teams in and around us and we’ve got to make sure we go and get positive results.
“We’ll go there (to Plymouth) full of confidence even though we’ve been beaten 3-0.
“They’re a team that are in and around us and every game is important, whether it’s home or away or whether the other team are at the top or the bottom.
“Anybody can beat anybody on their given day. We lost a football match against a good team on Saturday but it’s about where we want to be so we’ve got to bounce back and that’s what it’s about.
“Hopefully, on Tuesday, we’ll come out with a positive result and I’ll have a smile on my face at the end of the game!”