Harding believes Cobblers can compete at a higher level

BELIEF - Cobblers midfielder Ben Harding
BELIEF - Cobblers midfielder Ben Harding

Ben Harding believes the nature of Wednesday night’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat to Leyton Orient proves the Cobblers are able to compete with teams from a higher level.

Town knocked two league one sides out of the competition - Milton Keynes Dons and Colchester United - in the first two stages before coming up short against the Os, who recorded a seventh straight win with a 3-0 Sixfields success.

They have also claimed a Championship scalp this season by knocking Cardiff City out of the Capital One Cup, although they bowed out of that trophy to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Those results, and the midweek contest with Orient, provide enough evidence for Harding to make the statement that the team is fully capable of holding their own against teams of a higher standard.

“We had the upper hand in the first half and then in the second half we came out and maybe got a bit too confident in ourselves,” said the midfielder.

“They took the game to us and we conceded some sloppy goals.

“If I’m honest, I think we matched them and I think it shows that there’s not a massive difference.

“Hopefully we can get to their level and we just need to keep on pushing in the league.”

The past two fixtures against Oxford and Leyton Orient, spread over a two-week spell due to the absence of a second-round FA Cup tie, have both ended in losses and provide a timely reminder that the team need to make several improvements before they can establish themselves as serious promotion candidates.

“We had three really good results before the Oxford game and in that game we conceded a goal that was definiely offside and then a sloppy one,” said Harding.

“We’ve got to cancel those things and make sure we score more at the other end - that goes for everyone, not just the defenders, it’s down the midfielders and the forwards as well.

“I don’t think we turn up expecting it to win these games, against Orient we were the cause of our own downfall and that’s something we need to address.”