Cobblers boss Keith Curle has explained his reasons for replacing striker Andy Williams with midfielder Dean Bowditch during Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Port Vale.
The decision to withdraw Williams, Town’s top scorer this season, and introduce Bowditch on 56 minutes was met by boos from disapproving home fans as Northampton struggled to make their numerical advantage count against 10-men Vale.
The score was 1-1 at the time and it would get worse for the Cobblers with 15 minutes to go when Charlie Goode was adjudged to have pushed his man in the penalty box, allowing substitute Tom Pope to convert from the spot with his first touch of the game.
That brought Curle’s substitutions further under the microscope, especially as John-Joe O’Toole, also on from the bench having replaced Sam Hoskins moments earlier, lost possession in the build-up to Vale’s winner.
But the Town boss justified his decisions afterwards, saying: “We were going to get dominance of the ball with the extra man and we needed a creative player in midfield to open them up.
“Sometimes people think think having lots of centre-forwards on the pitch means you have more chance of scoring, but you need creativity to supply forward passes and we were lacking that.
If you get a team that don’t want to get on the ball and don’t want to receive the ball and help the person on it, you become very static and that’s what we became on Saturday.
“Andy knows himself that he didn’t play well on Saturday. He’s a professional and he knows that things weren’t going his way.”
Curle also had no issue with fans booing, either during or after the game, adding: “I don’t mind supporters booing. They pay their money and they’re entitled to it. I had a pitchside view of it, they had to sit in the stands!”
Cobblers struggled to make much headway against struggling Vale on Saturday, even when the visitors lost skipper Leon Legge to a first-half red card, as they repeatedly lost possession through careless, wayward passing.
“If you look at good teams and successful teams, when you’re in possession of the ball, you work hard,” Curle added. “You don’t just work out of possession.
“When you’ve got the ball, you work and you move and that creates space and opportunities and then you have people who want to get on the ball.
“If you get a team that don’t want to get on the ball and don’t want to receive the ball and don’t help the person on it, you become very static and that’s what we became on Saturday.”