Steady progress pleases Curle after Cobblers claim second successive draw
Cobblers boss Keith Curle remains upbeat with the progress his new side are making after they maintained their unbeaten start under his leadership when pegged back to a 1-1 draw by Swindon Town on Saturday.
Bar a shaky first 10 minutes, Town were the better team for much of Saturday's scrappy and low-key contest as Curle stuck by his preferred 3-5-2 formation despite being without Leon Barnett and Ash Taylor.
Shay Facey and Jordan Turnbull slotted in at the back and limited Swindon to few clear opportunities after two excellent early stops from David Cornell, before John-Joe O'Toole's first goal of the season put the Cobblers on course for three points.
Matty Taylor ensured Curle would have to wait for his first win though, bending a superb free-kick into the top corner with 17 minutes remaining, but Curle was nevertheless in positive mood at full-time, describing the point as 'hard-earned' and well-deserved.
"I'm five or six days in and I'm still getting to know the players individually and collectively but I've just said to them after the game that I'm already enjoying working with them," he said.
"That's down to the reaction we've had and the attention to detail they've taken onboard and the willingness to accept the challenges.
"The general response has been very good and that's two games undefeated for five days' work, which is pleasing."
On the absence of Taylor and Barnett, Curle explained: "Both were unavailable for selection but when one door closes another door of opportunity opens for two other people.
"There were three new players that I introduced for the game and there were good, solid performances, good understanding, good willingess and a good desire to get on the front foot and be an attacking threat."
The Cobblers ended the first-half on top and continued that into the second-half when O'Toole converted a Sam Hoskins cross just shy of the hour-mark, only for Taylor's brilliance to leave Curle with a tinge of frustration at full-time.
He continued: "If there was a trademark goal for John-Joe, that would be it. He arrives late in the box and gets a run on his marker.
"Some might say he gambled but it was a trademark run and a trademark finish and it was well-deserved. That's what we need to get back to - hitting the strengths of the players.
"I was disappointed with the free-kick we conceded for their goal but you've got to respect the lad's ability and he's put it in a good place.
"The goalkeeper couldn't do anything about it and a goal of that quality deserved to get a point for them, but we're coming away from home slightly dismantled in terms of team selection and conceding one shot after the first 10 minutes, so we nullified a lot of their threats."