Despite ruing a lack of ruthless edge in front of goal, Cobblers boss Rob Page said he saw plenty of encouraging signs from his team after their 2-1 defeat at Gillingham on Saturday.
Northampton were unable to make it three league wins on the spin despite going ahead at the Priestfield Stadium, as Gillingham fought back and prevailed thanks to a stoppage-time winner.
Afterwards, Page noted the need for his side to develop a cutting edge if they are to maintain their position in the top 10 in Sky Bet League One, but the Town boss felt there were enough positive signs.
That said, with Gillingham on a downward spiral and struggling for form, Saturday represented a missed opportunity for the Cobblers to cement their position in the play-offs.
“If we want to go where we want to go this season, we’ve got to win that game,” conceded Page.
“When you take the lead and go 1-0 up, you manage the game and see it out.
“Worst case scenario, I thought we were good for a point with the effort and work-rate.
“But when you don’t clear your lines like we did at the end, you get punished at this level.
“It’s a killer blow and hard to take but with the overall performance, I wasn’t too disappointed and there were a lot of encouraging signs from an attacking point of view.
“We do look dangerous on the counter-attack with the pace we’ve got in the team, but we have to be ruthless and eradicate those silly little problems that we’ve created for ourselves.”
We have to be ruthless and eradicate those silly little problems that we’ve created for ourselves.Rob Page
The Town boss felt Sam Hoskins was one of the culprits. Whilst the youngster produced another vibrant performance, his end product and final ball would often be his downfall as he wasted several promising situations.
Page added: “Sam had another good game but people are now becoming aware of what he’s all about and his strengths and weaknesses.
“He’s got to mix his play up. There’s nobody quicker than him in the divisions so when he runs with the ball people will put two defenders on him and stop him.
“He’s got to mix it up and he did in the second-half and they couldn’t live with him.
“It’s about the end product and that’s something we’re working on, not just with him but there’s a couple of others as well.
“If we do that we’ll be somewhere near to where we want to be.”
Page also provided a potentially concerning injury update on JJ Hooper, saying: “It’s hard to tell at the minute.
“He felt a sharp pain in his thigh so it sounds like it could be a tear.
“But we won’t know until we get the scan and look at the extent of the damage.”