Chris Wilder has conceded that the Cobblers’ promotion play-off dream is over following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Stevenage.
The Town boss has promised the club’s supporters that the team will be pushing to end the season in a positive fashion, but now accepts that a top seven finish is out of reach after collecting just one point from the last nine available.
The Cobblers looked in good shape as they led 1-0 at half-time at Stevenage thanks to a Zander Diamond goal, but a 65th-minute leveller from Chris Whelpdale and then a last-minute winner from Simon Walton condemned them to defeat.
Town are 11th in Sky Bet League Two, seven points off the top seven with just four games of the season remaining, and when asked if the play-off bid was over, Wilder admitted: “I think it is.
“We have to be realistic, and we did great to put ourselves in the position to even be knocking on the door of the play-offs.
“We can talk all day long about how well we have done going forward, we have never had a problem creating and finishing, but the biggest problem we have is keeping the ball out of our net.
“Also, before this game Stevenage had managed five more draws than us, and we have to learn to grind things out and get something from a game when we’re not playing well, that has been an Achilles heel for us this year.
“It’s difficult to judge today, and Monday and last Friday, because we have been playing cup tie football and have been having to go for wins which means you leave yourself open at the back.”
Wilder felt Stevenage just about deserved their win, saying: “We scored against the run of play, and I didn’t think we deserved to be up in the game at half-time.
“The pitch is horrific, it is tough to play any type of football on it, and maybe today epitomises our season, where we were in the game for long periods, especially in the second half, and end up getting beat.
“We should have had enough at 1-0 up to take the game away from them, but to be fair to Stevenage they possibly deserved the result they got for their first half performance, and their continuous onslaught in trying to get something from the game.”