Wilder defends team selection despite Barnet defeat

Chris Wilder and Martin Allen on the touchline
Chris Wilder and Martin Allen on the touchline

Northampton manager Chris Wilder strongly defended his decision to shake up the Cobblers’ starting line-up following their defeat to Barnet on Tuesday.

With Town’s hectic schedule in mind, Wilder opted to make four changes from the 3-0 win over Exeter City, though it would have been five had Ricky Holmes not pulled up moments before the match, but it didn’t pay off as John Akinde’s brace saw Barnet to victory.

Rod McDonald came into the side following Zander Diamond’s injury, while Sam Hoskins, Chris Hackett and Dominic Calvert-Lewin also made the team in place of Alfie Potter, Nicky Adams and Marc Richards.

Despite the final scoreline, Wilder felt it was necessary to make those changes as he looks to manage his squad during a busy period of the season.

He said afterwards: “I said I would freshen it up and that’s my prerogative as a manager.

“I changed the side last week and nobody said anything about it then when we won 3-0 against Blackpool.

“We’ve got eight games in 24 days and that’s quite a lot of games. Of course I’ll look at myself tonight and the changes but it was alright last week when we won 3-0 and it could have been four or five against a League One club.

“We’ve got a hell of an amount of games in this period. Nobody was complaining last week and we have a group of players here that we expect to go out and play and give their all.

“We’ve got one game every three days. That’s a heavy fixture list and we’ve handled it quite well so far.

“When it goes well nobody says anything but when you lose the first thing you hear is that you made too many changes.

“Us making those changes tonight had absolutely nothing to do with the result. We made the changes at the top of the pitch. There was one change we had to make but three out of the back four played, the goalkeeper played and the central midfielders played and that’s a big chunk of the team.”

There was little to choose between the sides up in the first half but that all changed on 65 minutes as Jason Taylor was sent off for hauling down Akinde when the striker was through on goal.

Akinde picked himself up and converted the penalty before adding a late second.

“We never said this was going to be easy, we told the players and they knew that,” Wilder added.

“They went to Millwall last Tuesday and got a result against a Championship team so there’s no easy games in this division.

“It was a physical battle and we have to find a way, we have to meet the challenge. We’ve done that before and we’ve got enough men in the side to do that, and then we need to play.

“The first goal is so, so important. This is League Two, it’s not all about technical stuff, coaching manuals and playing around the corner. You have to roll your sleeves up and dig yourself in and fight and we did that until half-time.

“We switched off for one moment and they break and the ball’s in the back of the net and it’s a real difficult situation to come back from when they’re 1-0 up and we’re down to 10 men.”