There was no hiding the deep disappointment on Ash Taylor’s face following his side’s 3-0 defeat to Rotherham United on Saturday when the Cobblers captain urged his team-mates to cut out their ‘individual mistakes’ if they are to have any chance of staying up this season.
Since winning successive home games over Southend and MK Dons in January, Northampton have struggled to find the form needed to climb away from relegation trouble, especially at Sixfields where they have lost meekly to Gillingham, Rochdale and Rotherham and only managed a frustrating goalless draw with out-of-form Oxford United.
The most recent disappointment came on Saturday when Rotherham had it all too easy in sweeping to a comfortable and deserved 3-0 victory, and the final scoreline would have been more one-sided if not for Richard O’Donnell in the home goal.
This season, Northampton have won six and lost 10 of 22 home games in all competitions and scored a miserly 15 league goals, the second worst record in the division behind only Rochdale, who’ve played four fewer home games. To go back further, the Cobblers have won 15 of 42 games at Sixfields since returning to League One.
“I can’t my finger on it to be honest,” said Taylor on Town’s home struggles. “I can’t tell you why or what’s going, it’s just a very very disappointing afternoon.
“We’ve got to stay together and we have to fight, there’s nothing more I can say. It’s a big nine games ahead and every one is a cup final.
I totally understand their frustration. They know what type of team we are and what type of players we’ve got. For me it’s frustrating because I train every day with the lads.
“Individual mistakes cost us the three points but we’ve got to regroup for Tuesday and put in a solid performance because that’s what we need right now.
“The second goal killed us. We got on top and we showed what we were about at times but not enough, not enough by far, and the second goal put the nail in the coffin.
“It was again individual mistakes and it was just a very disappointing afternoon.”
Home fans were streaming out of the exits well before full-time on Saturday, most letting their feelings known in the process, and Taylor only has sympathy with them after they were subjected to another well below-par 90 minutes.
“I totally understand their frustration,” he admitted. “They know what type of team we are and what type of players we’ve got.
“For me it’s frustrating because I train every day with the lads. Sometimes, it just doesn’t come together and it is very disappointing, but we do need them.
“They’re a 12th man for us and when they get right behind us it lifts the players and makes them know they have their backing. They’ve been brilliant for us this season, away from home as well, and I’ve only got good things to say about the fans because they’ve supported us.
“Sometimes, when you’re going through a rough spell, the fans do tend to make their frustrations known and that’s part and parcel of football. You’ve just got to get your head down and grind through it and put in an improved performance to give the fans what they want.”
Taylor has undoubtedly been Town’s most consistent performer at the heart of defence this season but, understandably, he could take little comfort from that with his team in such dire straits.
“It doesn’t matter, it’s a team game,” he added. “I’d have a bad performance for three points right now but it’s part and parcel of football. Sometimes people make mistakes but we’ve just got to stay positive and cut them out of our game and look to put in a better performance.
“I think, with the squad of players we have, we’ve got enough to stay up. Every game is massive form now on and we need to go into Tuesday looking for the three points.
“It’s fine margins. We started OK on Saturday and if we cut out the mistakes and if we can get the second goal of the game, the impetus is with us. But we didn’t create enough in the right areas and Rotherham’s second knocked the stuffing out of us.”