Chris Wilder took full responsibility for Cobblers’ poor first-half performance against Mansfield on Monday but went on to hail his side’s never-say-die attitude as they fought back to earn a 2-2 draw.
Wilder opted for a change in formation to 4-3-3 with Marc Richards, John Marquis and James Collins all starting up front, but that decision backfired as Mansfield took a deserved 2-0 lead into half-time.
Ricky Holmes and Lawson D’Ath were introduced at the break and a switch to 4-4-2 had the desired impact as goals from Holmes and Marquis earned Cobblers a share of the spoils.
“I take full responsibility for the first-half performance, not the players,” said Wilder.
“I changed the team pretty late because I looked at the conditions and looked at the pitch and I thought we’d be better going with three in midfielders and three targets at the top of the pitch.
“I didn’t get that right and I stick my hand up.
“Sometimes you get it right and sometimes you get it wrong and I got that wrong first-half.
“But saying that, we’ve got to defend better from the two wide free-kicks regardless of what formation we play.
“I expect centre-halves to go and head the ball in that position but they’ve had two free headers right in the middle of the goal.
“So that’s a negative from our point of view, but the positive was a fantastic second-half fightback.
“We dominated and we’ve got a proud old record going for us having not been beaten since the Portsmouth game.
“Yet again, the boys, backed by an unbelievable support, refused to be beaten.”
Northampton were given a lift just before half-time when Jamie McGuire was sent off for two yellow cards, although Wilder felt that decision had little impact.
He added: “We were always making the substitutions and we were always going to do better second-half regardless of the sending off.
“It’s disappointing from their point of view but I don’t think he can have any complaints and then I’ve looked at it and we’ve scored a goal today, Ricky Holmes’ shot was over the line so I don’t see a lot in the decisions.
“You have to keep 11 players on the pitch and we’ve done that and you have to deal with the decision the referee makes.
“We’re a little bit disappointed that we’ve not won it but after the second goal went in for them, to get a point out of the game we can take that as a positive.”
Richards was one of the two causalities to be replaced at half-time as his return from an Achilles injury was cut short.
Wilder continued: “He was always coming off after 60 minutes so it was a difficult decision because I wanted to make the substitutions.
“I couldn’t really keep him on the pitch and then make the decision so it was a tough one on Marc but he understands because he’s a proper pro.”