Keith Curle says the Cobblers dressing has ‘fight in abundance’ but he now wants his players to have more patience and make better decisions on the pitch if they are to turn leads into victories.
Northampton have become far harder to beat since Curle took the reins, losing just two of 14 league games, but they’ve also picked up a habit of throwing away points from winning positions.
It started creeping in during the first-half where we had players playing on the edge of the game trying to break before we had won the ball back and then with one pass they broke our lines and split us.
Converting just five of 12 leads into three points this season, Town have lost 14 points from having taken the lead at some point during games, surrendering the advantage in each of their past three games.
That included Boxing Day’s draw with Swindon Town when a dominant first-half was followed by disappointing second as Town missed chances and were then pegged back once again.
“As the game wore on, and even in the first-half, we became very excitable on the counter-attack but to be a counter-attacking team you need to win the ball back and then break,” said Curle.
“It started creeping in during the first-half where we had players playing on the edge of the game trying to break before we had won the ball back and then with one pass they broke our lines and split us.
“We have to keep our shape and be an attacking team because there a couple of times in the first-half when we got on the front foot and we got the momentum and we looked a very dangerous team.”
Curle was still pleased with elements of his side’s performance on Wednesday though, and he’s hoping they can take those positives into tomorrow’s game against MK Dons while eradicating the negatives, such as the manner in which Keshi Anderson’s leveller came about.
He added: “There are positives to take because I thought we made Swindon look vulnerable and very ordinary and if we get that second goal it would have been a different afternoon.
“We had enough men behind the ball but their goal comes from our throw-in and it’s about decision-making, winning first contact and then winning second contact.
“We were open straight through the middle of our team and that can’t happen. Am I going to play six at the back? No. Do I need players to make better decisions? Yes.
“It’s poor decision-making by individuals. We’re trying to get it right throughout the squad, not just the team. I don’t praise failure and if people make mistakes, it gets identified and we work on it.
“I’m not scared of players making mistakes because I know they will make mistakes. Believe it or not, I made a few myself! But I learnt very quickly not to make the same mistakes and if you’re going to fail, fail when trying to do the right thing.
There can be no question that the Cobblers have developed more resolve since Curle took over. “The one thing I can guarantee is that that mentality wasn’t here when I walked through the door,” continued the Town boss. “It was a team that got relegated and only had one win and numerous defeats but there’s a mentality in the changing room now that we will fight for everything.
“That’s there in abundance. We need a bit more quality and better decision-making at key times but Swindon had one shot and their keeper made some great saves.”