It might not have seemed it at the time but Keith Curle says there was always logic behind his decision to play Sam Hoskins as the lone frontman for Tuesday’s game at Tranmere Rovers.
Curle has made no secret of his desire to tinker with his Cobblers team from week to week and he once again shook things up on Tuesday, making four alterations in all as David Buchanan, Jordan Turnbull and Joe Powell joined Hoskins back in the side.
Town lined up in a 3-4-2-1 shape with Powell and Bridge playing behind Hoskins in a front three, but despite those players combining for just two league goals between them before kick-off, Curle’s logic worked a treat.
Hoskins opened the scoring inside two minutes and then scored a sublime second in first-half stoppage-time as Cobblers ended their two-month wait for an away victory.
“It was all about pace,” said Curle on why he chose Hoskins as his only striker. “He’s a strong character and has willingness, desire and application. He has all of those in abundance.
“His first finish after a couple of minutes was excellent and it was everything we wanted him to do because we knew they would be expansive and leave their two centre-backs with opportunities for Sam to get at them.
His first finish was everything we wanted him to do because we knew they would be expansive and leave their two centre-backs with opportunities for Sam to get at them
“We just needed to give them the right ammunition and the lad fired the bullets. He was a threat throughout and caused them problems.
“All he needed was goals to add to those qualities and he got his rewards for backing himself, showing his character, putting demands on himself and being brave enough to get into the right areas at the right time.
“Statistically you’d say he’s been out-of-form because he hasn’t hit the back of the net but his finishes weren’t of a player out-of-form.”
Town’s win at Prenton Park came at an important time for Curle, whose side had been on a run of one victory in nine league matches.
“We want to win games and it’s important that we get results,” he added. “There are different ways of winning football matches.
“Tactically we set up to cause them problems but we didn’t pass the ball as well as we could have done and we didn’t give them as many problems as we should have.
“But we had the adaptability to change shape and change our focus and nullify their threat in the second-half.
“We came away from home against a team that have the league’s top scorer and he was a threat but we marshalled them well and nullified a lot of their threats.
“There were a few little slips where we could have done better but overall I thought we did a good job of stopping their threats.”