Curle explains his triple substitution and says Goode blow doesn't excuse 'under-par' display

Keith Curle's drastic triple substitution during the second-half of Saturday's 'under-par' 1-0 defeat to Leyton Orient was designed to give Cobblers more control in midfield and greater threat out wide.

Monday, 7th October 2019, 12:26 pm
Keith Curle calls back the three players he would send on all at once against Leyton Orient. Picture: Pete Norton

With 69 minutes played and his side struggling to gain any momentum after James Brophy's well-taken goal steered Orient ahead, Curle took the drastic measure of making all three substitutions at once.

Off came Andy Williams, Shaun McWilliams and Harry Smith, replaced by Vadaine Oliver, Matty Warburton and Alan McCormack, who was making his long-awaited return from injury.

Those changes also meant a switch in formation as Town went from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 with Warburton playing behind Oliver and McCormack dropping into midfield.

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The decision to withdraw Williams and McWilliams was greeted by some boos from home supporters and Curle's bold move didn't pay off as Town continued to toil away, creating only a couple of half chances on their way to a deserved defeat.

"We needed to try and change it," said Curle. "We needed to get more width and match them up in midfield.

"It was a good opportunity to get Alan McCormack out there. I think it was his first minutes since the first game of the season so if there is a plus, being able to get him back on the pitch is it.

"Matty Warburton had the chance at the end - I think he was offside anyway - and I thought Vadaine came on and did very well.

"He won more headers when he came on and gave us more of a focal point, but that was probably because we had more width in the team."

Charlie Goode pulled out of the team with illness just a few hours before kick-off on Saturday but while Curle felt that hindered his preparations, he says the Cobblers should have enough experience to overcome the loss of their captain.

"I can't smudge over the fact that we had too many players under-par and I think the effect of Charlie pulling out played a part because he's a miss," he added.

"It's very difficult when you get that phone call at 10am in the morning because you know you have to shuffle the pack and you know it'll have an effect.

"I think that, psychological or mentally, did have an impact as a collective group but we've still got good professionals out there that we need better from."