Reacting to a setback has thankfully been a rarity for Keith Curle during his six weeks in charge of the Cobblers, but even when his side do succumb to defeat, such as at Lincoln City on Saturday, there are plenty of positives for him to focus on.
Northampton crashed out of the FA Cup in round one for the second season running but this was by no means the limp, regrettable exit it threatened to be when 53 minutes were on the clock at Sincil Bank.
At that point, the Imps were two goals to the good and deservedly so as Harry Anderson emphatically finished off a slick team move 16 minutes in and then Tom Pett whizzed home a second from 20 yards shortly after the resumption.
A month ago, Town may have crumbled. Not now. With six wins in their last seven, including four on the bounce, they are a team rejuvenated and revitalised under Curle, as demonstrated by their subsequent fightback that had the tie on course for a replay.
Jack Bridge fired in his first goal for the Cobblers within three minutes of Pett’s second and then Kevin van veen netted his seventh of the campaign, collecting Hakeem Odoffin’s low cross before swivelling and shooting beyond Josh Vickers all in one motion.
Back on level terms heading for the final few moments, a replay at the PTS Stadium seemed certain until Bruno Andrade’s exquisite finish in injury-time, the Lincoln man cutting in from the left and bending a 25-yard shot past David Cornell to condemn Curle to just his second defeat in 10 games in the Northampton hotseat.
Players that play at higher levels take pride in doing the simple things and they have an understanding of how important simple things are because that’s part of the foundation.
Town’s disappointment only deepened when Junior Morias, on his return from eight weeks injured, needlessly saw red in the dying embers, meaning he now faces another three games out having already missed a large chunk of the season.
But while Curle’s overriding emotion at full-time was one of understandable frustration, he also had reasons to be upbeat because this defeat at the in-form Imps was certainly not a momentum-killing one.
“I wasn’t here before and I can only assess what’s here and what I’ve got in the changing room now,” said the Town boss.
“There’s a fighting spirit, there’s character, there’s belief, there’s confidence and an understanding that we must continue to keep putting down foundations and we’re still in the infancy of creating the environment that will bring success.”
Curle believes the Cobblers can learn a lot from their conquerors on Saturday. Lincoln, under the impressive management of Danny Cowley, currently top League Two and look on course for a second promotion in three seasons.
“It’s about doing the simple things well and what you find is that good players do the simple thing very, very well,” he continued.
“Lincoln have built momentum and success and what we want to do is to try and have the right players making the right decisions at the right time and that gives you another pillar which is part of the foundation to build on.
“You don’t coach character but what you do is improve mentality and enhance the importance of being able to do those simple things consistently well.
“Players that play at higher levels take pride in doing the simple things and they have an understanding of how important simple things are because that’s part of the foundation.”