Curle's gameplan works a treat as controlled Cobblers claim County scalp - verdict, reaction and highlights

Keith Curle got his tactics spot on as Cobblers completely nullified Newport. Picture: Pete Norton
Keith Curle got his tactics spot on as Cobblers completely nullified Newport. Picture: Pete Norton

Whilst the Cobblers trod two very different paths en route to these impressive victories, it was easy to draw parallels between Saturday's win over Newport County and their previous home success against Plymouth Argyle two weeks earlier.

Whereas the win over Plymouth was both spectacular and thrilling, here they were more controlled and efficient and never once looked in trouble from the moment Andy Williams nudged them into a crucial early lead, with Sam Hoskins securing all three points 18 minutes from time.

But there was one obvious similarity between the two games. On both occasions, Curle identified the opponent's weakness, worked out how to exploit it and then watched his players brilliantly execute the gameplan. The fact that previously unbeaten Newport, flying high in second spot ahead of kick-off, failed to register a solitary shot on target told the story.

"I've got a lot of respect for Flynny and what he's done at that club because he's built success and built momentum and it does take time," said Curle afterwards.

"They don't change the way they play. They have a slightly different system that can catch you out because they quickly get people in the box so we needed to match that and stand up to that and earn the right to play and I thought we did that."

Yet to lose a game by more than one goal, the major positive to come out of this season so far is that the Cobblers have been competitive in every game. They were beaten by late goals against Macclesfield Town and Bradford City, lost to a second-half penalty at Colchester United and were unlucky in the opening day defeat to Walsall.

Against Newport, they were industrious and effective and came away with three well-deserved points. Having now won three of the last five to edge their way up to 14th place, the signs of progress are undeniable.

"We've got players who can play and who can open doors but we're getting the understanding that we need that shape to play from," added Curle.

"We're playing against a good team and we need to fill holes. Percentage wise and statistically wise, Newport land on a lot of second balls but we were in their face and we didn't allow them to dictate play.

"The two centre-backs were excellent and the two full-backs were excellent and we matched them in midfield. When we got the other side of them, we had enough to cause them problems and Chris Lines came into his own and enjoyed himself.

"He earned the right to play and if you get Chris Lines operating in the final third, he can open doors because he's got composure - and then the finish from Sam Hoskins, he deserves that. But there were plenty of other contributors."