Cobblers players will take a long, hard look at themselves

Jonathan Mitchell saved the first-spot but didn't get close to the second.Jonathan Mitchell saved the first-spot but didn't get close to the second.
Jonathan Mitchell saved the first-spot but didn't get close to the second.
OK, so the Cobblers were beaten by non-league opposition but upsets happen, it’s what the FA Cup is famous for after all. It can’t have been that bad, right?

Wrong. The final scoreline may have given the impression of a tight game but it does not even begin to tell the full story of a wretched night for Keith Curle’s side.

Oxford City are 63 places and three divisions below the Cobblers and yet were the dominant force from minute one to minute 90 in a completely one-sided encounter, racking up 20 shots to the away side’s 11.

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It is hard to put your finger on what went so catastrophically wrong for the Cobblers.

Sure, Curle made seven changes and fielded a relatively youthful side at Marsh Lane but that does not explain nor excuse their inexplicably poor performance.

Goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell was even able to save a penalty and yet still it made no difference.

“From one to 11, myself included, it just wasn’t good enough and we know that,” he said. “We’ll be honest with ourselves and we will look over it and see where we’ve gone wrong, but it’s just nowhere near good enough from us.

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“I don’t think we underestimated them, we just weren’t good enough on the night. I don’t know why that was but things didn’t happen for us.

“The 4G pitch is absolutely not an excuse. I’m not going to stand here and look at stuff like that. The team was not good enough and as individuals we were not good enough.”

For Morgan Roberts, it was a full debut to quickly forget.

"It was good to start and make my full debut for the club but obviously I wanted to top it off with a win," he said. "The lads weren't good enough and we'll look back over it in the morning and see where we went wrong.

"Fair play to Oxford, they came out strongly and pressed us for the whole 90 minutes, but we've got to look at ourselves because as a team, and individually, we were not good enough and we have to put that right."

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The one silver lining for the Cobblers – and this might be clutching at straws – is that Curle has a habit of getting a response out of his players just when required.

After losing 3-0 to Scunthorpe last season, Town won seven of their next eight matches, and it was a similar story following their 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Crawley on Boxing Day; it would be another 10 matches until they tasted defeat again.

Three points against Accrington Stanley this weekend wouldn’t quite extinguish the horror of Monday’s defeat but it would make everyone feel a whole lot better about themselves.

First though, the players will have to sit through their mistakes at Oxford in painstaking detail.

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“It’ll make painful viewing,” admitted Mitchell. “No-one really wants to watch it back but we know we need to and we will do and we’ll learn from it. We’ve got to be honest and frank with each other and put it to bed.

“We’ll make sure we know where we went wrong and put it right on Saturday.”

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