Cobblers boss Keith Curle was pleased with the battling nature of his side’s performance against Newport County on Tuesday and stressed the importance of knowing how to ‘grind out’ 1-0 wins.
Bar a 15-minute spell at the end of the first-half, Town never truly found their best stuff on Tuesday and it seemed they would have to settle for a goalless draw until Joe Powell’s wonder strike 90 seconds from time.
Neither team wanted to take a backward step and I think that caused a bit of a clash for the purists who would like to have seen the ball on the ground more with more quality.
Despite the visitors not having a single shot on target, the home defence was kept busy throughout by a lively Newport forward line but some determined defending allowed Powell to win it.
“It’s important to grind out wins,” said Curle. “I said to the players after the game that good teams can win 1-0.
“It’s not easy to win 1-0 because you need to have the focus and the concentration and understand when to be expressive and expansive and when to be behind the ball filling holes.
“You have to be brave enough to express yourself and I thought we did all that. Some of our set-pieces were excellent and we were just inches away from making that first contact in the box.
“But you have to give credit to Newport because they defended very well against our movements and against our physical presence that we offered in their box.
“It was a very competitive game. Neither team wanted to take a backward step and I think that caused a bit of a clash for the purists who would like to have seen the ball on the ground more with more quality.
“But for people who enjoy the competitive element of the game, I think they saw a very competitive football match.”
Northampton’s recent defensive displays have been unrecognisable from earlier in the campaign and going back to last season, with skipper Aaron Pierre leading the back four to three clean sheets in the past five games.
“People might be getting fed up of me talking about foundations but a foundation of a good team is where, when things aren’t going tour way, we look solid, we look resolute and we look competitive,” added Curle.
“Individually and collectively, we have to be ready to compete and that is a foundation for us and that’s what got us the result on Tuesday against a good team.
“I don’t think Dai (Cornell) had too much trouble. They faded in the second-half and we had more opportunities to express ourselves but, as a building block, there were some pleasing aspects to come out of the game.”