Personal plaudits counts for little as McWilliams rues poor first-half from Cobblers

'I felt I did okay out there but we haven’t won the game so it’s irrelevant really.'

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 1:39 pm
Shaun McWilliams.

Shaun McWilliams struggled to take any personal pride from his own performance after the Cobblers were beaten by Crawley on Saturday.

Northampton saw their five-game winning streak at home snapped by Tom Nichols’ well-taken goal as a poor first-half performance was followed by a wasteful second.

Jon Brady’s men were flat, sluggish and played without purpose for 45 minutes and ultimately gave themselves too much to do despite improving significantly after the break.

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"It’s a game of two halves and the first-half obviously wasn’t good enough,” admitted McWilliams.

“We didn’t create anywhere near the same amount of chances as we had in the second-half and there was not enough urgency and no purpose to our play.

“We came out in the second-half and we were a lot better. On another day, we win the game, and to be honest we probably should have won, but unfortunately we were beaten.

“It’s hard to put your finger on one issue in the first-half but we lacked a bit of purpose.

“I don’t know what that was down to but we put that behind us and came out much better in the second-half.

“They scored their goal late in the first-half and then made it difficult for us but we had our chances and should have won the game.

“I think we had them where we wanted them but it’s down to us to put the ball into the back of the net and we couldn’t do it.

“It’s just one of those where you have to take it on the chin and look forward to the next game.”

COVID cannot be used as an excuse in the same way that it was against Swindon Town last weekend, especially given that Crawley suffered a similar outbreak over Christmas.

But there is no doubt that the Cobblers are struggling to regain the momentum they had before going 21 days without a game.

They looked heavy-legged and short on sharpness for an hour against Crawley, something that will need to change ahead of this weekend’s crunch clash against League Two’s runaway leaders Forest Green Rovers.

“We’re halfway through the season now and I think COVID came at the wrong time for us,” McWilliams said.

“But you can’t use that as an excuse.

“We’ve played two games since coming back now and haven’t picked up any points.

“I think every club has gone through it and it’s obviously caused a bit of a blip for us but it’s about the teams who can put it behind them and get back on track.

“I think that’s what we need to do. COVID has passed us by now and we showed that in the second-half so I think we will be fine for next weekend.”

As for McWilliams, he was most people’s man of the match by the virtue of the fact he was one of perhaps only two players – Ali Koiki being the other – to perform to a good level in the first-half, as well as the second.

“I don’t think I had been named man of the match previously this season but it’s obviously a little bit bittersweet with the result,” McWilliams admitted.

“I felt I did okay out there but we haven’t won the game so it’s irrelevant really. We want the three points.

“I would rather play badly and get the three points than play well as an individual.”

The 23-year-old resisted the temptation to have a go himself during Town’s late barrage, instead opting to recycle possession and keep his side on the front foot.

“I do want to score more goals and it is something I need to add to my game,” the midfielder added.

“I tried to push forward, especially in the second-half, but I didn’t quite get within range to take a shot and it didn’t happen for us.”