Professional Cobblers give Curle plenty to be happy about
Cobblers boss Keith Curle was pleased with the professional nature of his side's performance on Tuesday evening when they reached the next round of the Checkatrade Trophy with a comfortable 2-0 win over Fulham U21s.
The competition hardly ranks at the top of Town's list of priorities this season but that did not stop Curle from taking Tuesday's game seriously, making only a handful of changes from the weekend as he looked to keep his side's good run of form going.
They did just that with a mature performance at the PTS Stadium, never looking back once first-half goals from Aaron Pierre and Sam Hoskins put them on course for qualification from South Group F.
With Oxford United thrashing Wycombe Wanderers 3-0 in the other game on Tuesday, the Cobblers finished the group stage in second place and will therefore likely face an away tie in the next stage of the competition.
"It was a professional performance and we set the tone in the first-half," said Curle. "The message to the players before the game was that we were playing against a team who want to play football.
"They're a good footballing side, they've got good credentials and good ability but the important thing was that we wanted them to come across a team that is creating a winning environment and a demanding environment and we set our standards and I thought we did very well.
"I thought we were excellent in the first-half and closed them down well. They wanted to play football, we wanted to win the game and I think that's important.
"They have some very good technical players but they probably haven't come up against a team like us in their normal games because they'll be playing entertaining, attacking football all over the park.
"Tonight they came up against a team that had a discipline about them and an understanding of how to stop good players from playing and for the majority of the first-half we did that.
"There was a little spell before half-time when we were on the front foot but we stayed static and then we were made to run around a bit more than we should have done, but sometimes hard work will beat talent when talent doesn't work hard and I think that was evident tonight."
Pierre's opening goal was his fourth in seven games but it was not all good news for the centre-back after he was taken off at half-time.
"His lower back was just tightening up a little bit," revealed Curle. "What we say to players is that they know their own bodies.
"We've got 10 players unavailable due to injuries and suspensions and lack of fitness and we don't want that number to grow anymore."