Aidy Boothroyd praised his Cobblers’ players for their enthusiasm in the FA Cup first-round defeat at Bradford but said losing on penalties was ‘awful’.
Town drew 3-3 at Valley Parade, having scored an injury-time equaliser to take the tie to extra time and then conceded a leveller in added time at the end of the extra 30 minutes.
Ishmel Demontagnac scored his first goal for the club, Clive Platt his second and Kelvin Langmead thought he’d won it with a curling shot from the edge of the box to put his side 3-2 up.
But Bradford scored a late, late third with the last kick of the game, and then prevailed 4-2 in the shoot-out, with Langmead blazing over and Danny East seeing his attempt saved.
“We are disappointed but I thought we showed bucketloads of enthusiasm and bucketloads of spirit to come back into it,” said Boothroyd, who lost Chris Hackett to illness in the run-up to the game and was forced to use a very young side, with substitute Ivan Toney becoming the club’s youngest ever player.
“It’s probably the youngest team I think I’ll ever put out and I think it was past the bedtime of one or two of them.
“I’m disappointed for our 111 fans because this is the third away game in a week for them and they’ve got themselves up here to back us.
“They might have got their money’s worth although I’m sure they’d rather we’d got through to the next round.
“But I can’t take anything away from the performance, I thought we were very strong and very spirited. To go out on penalties was awful.”
Boothroyd confirmed the squad had practiced penalties in their preparation for the game but watched them come up short against a Bradford side who are still yet to lose a cup game this season.
“I didn’t ask the players who wanted to take the penalties,” said Boothroyd, who also confirmed leading goalscorer Adebayo Akinfenwa would have taken Town’s fifth spot-kick.
“I just told them. There is a science behind it, I think, and we practised them but obviously we didn’t practise them enough.
“Sometimes the people who put their hands up are the ones that miss them so I decided on the five.
“Danny East and Kelvin, our captain, were excellent and we don’t point fingers. We use it as a learning experience and make sure we bounce back.”