Opposition view: Swindon boss Garner predicts 'very strong' Cobblers to stay 'at the top' all season

'Northampton are as good as a set-piece team as you will play in this division.'

Monday, 3rd January 2022, 11:05 am
Ben Garner.

Swindon Town head coach Ben Garner fully expects Northampton to remain a strong force at the top end of League Two this season following his side's 5-2 victory at the County Ground on Saturday.

Cobblers, playing their first game in 21 days, suffered only their second defeat in 11 outings after paying the price for 15 minutes of madness in the second-half.

Sam Hoskins and Jon Guthrie turned things around after Harry McKirdy's opener, but the visitors then conceded four goals in the space of 15 minutes.

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McKirdy scored three, taking his personal tally to four for the afternoon, while Tyreece Simpson also netted, and Garner recognised the importance of gaining all three points against a rival for promotion.

"Northampton are as good as a set-piece team as you will play in this division," he said. "They are fantastic, they've got two centre-halves who have scored a number of goals, they are a big threat, they have fantastic delivery and we knew that and, on the whole, I thought we stood up to it well.

"We restricted the number we gave away and that's four points against Northampton this season. They are a very, very strong team and I think they will feature at the top come the end of the season, so we're really pleased with that."

Garner was unhappy that Northampton's second goal was allowed to stand, venting his fury at the fourth official on the touchline.

"Northampton's second goal was offside," he insisted. "It isn't one where players have crossed over, they are stood offside the whole time, they are stood offside, they are waiting offside, the ball comes in and he scores.

"They are basic decisions but we responded, we didn't let it affect us and we blew them away in the second-half. Full credit to the players for their response."

Garner also admitted that his side were helped by the fact they returned to action from COVID with a 0-0 draw against Stevenage three days earlier. By contrast, Cobblers only trained as a full group for the first time on Friday, barely 24 hours before the game.

"It has been a fantastic week, we're delighted with the four points from those two games and we look to push on from there," added Garner.

"It was just blowing the cobwebs off from that period and it was hard work Wednesday night, but it allowed the players to get valuable minutes into their legs and allowed us to be a bit sharper on Saturday.

"It allowed us to make a couple of changes, we were able to bring a couple in who had a couple of extra days training, and there was a mentality shift there as well with and without the ball.

"That's something we've got to take into the remaining games in the league, regardless of whether we're home or away."