Wilder promises there’s more to come after opening day win

Chris Wilder during Northampton's win at Bristol. Picture by Sharon Lucey NNL-150808-162227009

Chris Wilder during Northampton's win at Bristol. Picture by Sharon Lucey NNL-150808-162227009

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Cobblers boss Chris Wilder hailed the collective effort of his players after their opening day victory over Bristol Rovers - but insisted his side can and will get better as the season progresses.

John-Joe O’Toole marked his return to the Pirates with the winning goal as his header from David Buchanan’s cross five minutes into the second half was enough to earn the Cobblers a deserved victory to start the new campaign with three points.

Wilder felt his side were well worth the win afterwards, saying: “I thought we outplayed them today. We were the better team and everybody played their part.

“It was a tight game – there’s no getting away from that because they posed us problems and our two centre-halves had to be on their guard.

“I thought Josh Lelan on his debut for us was great as was David Buchanan and anything that went in behind Smithy was outstanding.

“We had to defend and defend well which we did. Their only one chance came from a mistake from Ryan (Cresswell), who was outstanding all game.

“We can pass it a lot better but when we did pass it we opened them up and we felt we created the clearer chances.

“Marc (Richards) had a couple of chances but he will start to score and he got got into some really good positions.

“Overall, for day one when there’s a lot of unpredictability, it’s a great start.

“We were a bit anxious at times because of the occasion and because it was the first day of the season and nobody wanted to be the one to make a mistake, but we’ve got to learn to trust ourselves – we have some really good football players at this club.

“You not only saw the ability of the players but also the togetherness when we scored and then again at the end.”

Wilder’s side were far from their best in an error-strewn and scrappy opening half on Saturday, and they were fortunate not to be behind at the break when Matty Taylor took too long to shoot after rounding Adam Smith following a poor back header Ryan Cresswell.

The Clobbers upped their game after half-time, though, and O’Toole’s goal was one of several chances for the visitors with Marc Richards and Cresswell also going close before Northampton closed out victory despite some late Bristol pressure.

Now looking forward, Wilder says his side will improve.

“The forward players will play better and we will play better as a team,” he added. “There’s more to come.

“It’s a great start for us but we can do better – we’ve played one and won one. We wanted to get off to a good started and we’ve certainly done that today.

“It’s a difficult fixture at the best of times because the crowd are really good and positive here – they really do make an effort to get behind their players and they had a great season last year and the momentum and optimism kicks into the following year so we knew they’s start really quick.

“But it’s been a great day for us. I was delighted with our supporters – it was a great effort from them to come and back the boys and I thought it was a great effort from the players.

“I’m one for enjoying the occasion. You have terrible weeks when you get beaten so I want our supporters and the players to enjoy their weekend – that’s what we’re in the game for.”