Cheltenham Town boss Gary Johnson said his players ‘didn’t show any physical or mental strength’ in the 2-0 defeat to the Cobblers at Sixfields on Saturday.
Johnson made his first return to Northampton since being sacked as Town manager in November, 2011, and it was not a happy comeback as the Robins were well beaten thanks to second-half goals from Ivan Toney and Marc Richards to leave them in deep relegation trouble in Sky Bet League Two.
As well as watching his team being beaten, Johnson also had to endure plenty of stick from the Sixfields stands.
He was loudly booed as he came out of the tunnel at the start of the match, as well as any time the ball went near him in the technical area, and was taunted with ‘Johnson, Johnson what’s the score?’ once the Cobblers had gone 2-0 up.
It must have been an uncomfortable afternoon, but Johnson was only worried about the way his team performed, and laid the blame for the defeat at the feet of the players.
“It was a poor performance,” said Johnson.
“Every player was below their standard and they showed they can’t put in two good performances back to back.
“Tuesday night’s win (over Cambridge United) gave us hope, but if you don’t play with quality and the opposition do have that quality then you will get beat.
“Northampton is not an easy place to come, they’ve got some good footballers here and we didn’t get close enough to them.
“We need to be much better in our passing, in terms of getting the ball from A to B, that needs to improve, and we need to be more potent.
Northampton is not an easy place to come, they’ve got some good footballers here and we didn’t get close enough to them.Cheltenham manager Gary Johnson
“We were throwing it around at times and we didn’t show any physical or mental strength.”
The defeat leaves Cheltenham second bottom in league two, a point above rock-bottom Tranmere Rovers, and a point behind third-from-bottom Hartlepool United.
Two from those three clubs will be relegated on May 2, and although Johnson was annoyed with his team’s performance on Saturday, he’s not giving up with two games of the season remaining.
“We know we just need to be better than two other teams, it’s as simple as that now,” he said.
“I would never get excited about us playing well for five minutes, but we will do all we can to stay up.
“So my message to everyone is don’t slash your wrists just yet.”