Keith Curle has praised the ‘intelligence’ and ‘mentality’ of Dean Bowditch and also revealed the Cobblers forward was taken off with ‘breathing difficulties’ during Saturday’s draw against Stevenage.
Bowditch had his most influential game for the club since re-signing 18 months ago, involved in most of Town’s attacking play in the first-half when they created several goalscoring chances.
He missed two of those, firing wide from 20 yards and having a shot blocked, before breaking the deadlock in stoppage-time when bringing down Daniel Powell’s cross and smashing past visiting ‘keeper Paul Farman for his first Cobblers goal in over 10 years – going back to his loan spell from Ipswich in 2008.
But Bowditch’s game was cut short when he pulled up with no-one near him from a goal-kick, replaced by Hakeem Odoffin on 73 minutes. Two minutes later, Stevenage scored their equaliser.
“I thought we missed Dean when he went off because he was involved in a lot of the good things we were trying to do in the first-half,” said Curle.
“We missed him when he went off, which was due to breathing difficulties. He was short of breath.
You look at the flow of the game and I tried to put an extra man in midfield to play a five and a four to give the person on the ball more options.
“He’s an intelligent footballer and he’s got good foundation, good mentality to play in the game. He knows he’s not going to outpace somebody but he can pass and move.
“He’s got good ball retention, which is what we want in the final third. We want players who can make good decisions on the ball.”
The Cobblers struggled to gain a foothold when Bowditch went off as Curle opted to bring on a defender in Odoffin rather than make a like-for-like change, leaving Junior Morias and Billy Waters on the bench.
“It’s all about hindsight,” he added. “You look at the flow of the game and I tried to put an extra man in midfield to play a five and a four to give the person on the ball more options.
“If you couldn’t find an option, put the ball for a willing runner down the side of the pitch. We ended the game with Sam Hoskins and (Matt) Crooksy who are goal threats. If I had been able to put another two on, I probably would have done.”
Ash Taylor was also a surprise substitution when he was replaced Sam Hoskins at half-time. Curle added: “It was for injury prevention. He had a back spasm on Thursday and we’ve been monitoring it.
“Nothing went. It was just a case of him feeling he was at 75 per cent and it’s the right thing to do.”