‘Settled’ Curle happy with progress after first month as versatile Cobblers show their backbone

Cobblers boss Keith Curle and goalscorer John-Joe O'Toole. Pictures: Sharon Lucey
Cobblers boss Keith Curle and goalscorer John-Joe O'Toole. Pictures: Sharon Lucey

With four wins and just one defeat from seven games across two competitions, the first month of Keith Curle’s reign as Cobblers boss has undoubtedly been a successful one.

And the most impressive part of that excellent record is the versatility shown by Northampton to collect those four wins, three of which have come in the league with the other arriving at Oxford United in the Checkatrade Trophy.

There was the dramatic, last-gasp victory over Forest Green Rovers, then came the demolition of Macclesfield in midweek before Town overcame a numerical disadvantage and an incompetent refereeing display to defeat Oldham Athletic 2-1 on Saturday.

Those results, plus respectable draws against Bury and Swindon, have given Northampton a points tally of 11 from five games since Curle’s appointment on October 1, four more than they managed in the previous 10 under former boss Dean Austin.

The Cobblers, as a result, have opened up a healthy eight-point buffer over the League Two relegation zone while also offering hope they can push towards the top half and beyond as Curle heads into his second month at the helm.

“The progress has been good so far,” he said. “I came into a club that was on a downturn and it’s very easy to say that you want to create a wave and an upturn and get the club looking up the table.

You can’t do it on your own. When we get results I take the plaudits but I’m very quick to share it because I’ve had a lot of help and I’ve been made to feel welcome.

“The support I’ve had from inside the building, right from the chairman at the top to the office staff and the players, has been very pleasing and it shows there’s a club that wants and needs direction.

“You can’t do it on your own. When we get results I take the plaudits but I’m very quick to share it because I’ve had a lot of help and I’ve been made to feel welcome.

“I feel settled, even to the extent of the hotel I’m staying at. I got a feeling of belonging very quickly and that’s down to the staff and the owners of the football club. They’ve made the transition very easy for a new manager.”

Unlike at Moss Rose in midweek, Town took the tense, stressful route to victory against Oldham on Saturday but first-half goals from John-Joe O’Toole and Kevin van Veen and then a second-half rearguard kept the visitors at bay.

The home side, hampered by one man less following Sam Foley’s red card, surrendered possession as Curle effectively opted to play 4-5-0 for the entirety of the second period but his decisions all paid off as goalkeeper David Cornell was rarely called upon, despite Robert Hunt setting up a nervy finish.

“It shows the backbone that’s in the changing room that’s filtering out now and again,” added Curle. “Some of the supporters might have been slightly disappointed by the nature of how we had to defend but there’s a lot of pride that you can take from that.

“We need to win games. We’re still at the wrong end of the table so we need to win games. Every time we got a block and every time we got a tackle, you could tell the fans wanted that player to make that block and that gives players an extra yard.”