It is still early days this season but Dean Austin has already endured enough frustration to last an entire campaign, although another dose of full-time disappointment following Saturday’s home draw with Tranmere Rovers did little to shake his unwavering belief that the Cobblers are close to ‘clicking into gear’ sooner or later.
Austin witnessed his team fail to make their dominance count for a third home game running as Tranmere became the latest visiting team to leave the PTS Academy Stadium with perhaps more than they had warranted based on the balance of play.
If people are enjoying the football, then great. But I don’t want to keep coming away from games scratching my head wondering how we haven’t won.
It was not quite a smash-and-grab job à la Lincoln City on the opening – though James Norwood’s opening goal early in the second-half threatened it – but one point should have been all three had Town shown more composure and decisiveness in the final third.
That’s not a new problem though, and while Northampton’s stranglehold on this game was not quite as tight as previous home encounters with Cambridge and Lincoln, it was still enough to carve out many clear chances, all but one of which was converted thanks to Junior Morias, who opened his Cobblers account.
“We kind of know what teams will do when they come here because they know what we want to do and how we’re trying to play and the game we’re trying to build, but we are going to get better, that’s for sure,” insisted Austin afterwards.
“With the way we’re playing, we’ve got improvements in our game that we know we need to make and I’m well aware of that, but in terms of our play with the ball and how we’re actually playing, I think we had another 15 shots again so it shows we’re doing an awful lot right.
“We just need that bit of luck, we need to be more ruthless and we have to show more composure at times, but in terms of what we’re doing, I’m more than happy.
“On the positive side, we haven’t lost. Last season we would have games at home where we’d have one shot and lose so we’re doing a lot right and I’m very upbeat and very positive.
“I do honestly believe that it’s a matter of time before we click into gear because there’s not too much wrong but we’ve got to find a way and find the magic formula.”
Free-flowing football and entertaining games represents a stark transformation on last season’s dourness, but Austin accepts playing well without collecting regular wins can only take you so far.
And if he is to give fans what they want – three points – Austin’s team must improve on their dismal home record at the PTS Academy where they’ve won just once since January.
“At the moment, if we’re going to draw at home, we have to keep winning away,” he added.
“With the pace and legs we have in the side, it’s very well set up to be a counter-attacking team and play away from home when teams come on to us.
“I’ve already pinpointed a few little things that where we need to work but on the whole I feel positive.
“I want wins for the fans and I want them to go home happy. It’s all well and good enjoying the way the team’s playing and they can see the boys are giving everything, but that’s the minimum and I want victories.
“I want to get this place packed out and I want it to be a fortress where we can dominate the ball and dominate other teams and that’s what we’re working to.
“If people are enjoying the football, then great. But I don’t want to keep coming away from games scratching my head wondering how we haven’t won.”