Northampton manager Chris Wilder took little joy from his side’s 1-0 win over Accrington Stanley this afternoon after admitting the Cobblers were “second best in every aspect of the game”.
Marc Richards’ goal was the game’s decisive moment as his header from Ricky Holmes’ cross was enough to lift Northampton back up to second in Sky Bet League Two, but they were grateful for goalkeeper Adam Smith who was in fine form to deny Stanley several times.
The visitors created the clearer and more frequent chances but Smith was not to be beaten as Wilder conceded afterwards that his side were fortunate to come away with the points.
He said: “We can take the three points but I’ve got to say I can’t take many positives from the way we played.
“Where do I start? I thought we were second best all over the pitch in every aspect of the game and I’d be mightily disappointed if I was them not to come away with something.
“They’re a decent side, they’re dangerous and they play in a certain way but we’ve all been in the game long enough to know that sometimes you don’t get what you deserve.
“We were outstanding at Luton and I thought we played really well against Portsmouth but I can’t gloss over today by saying we were the better side because we weren’t.
“Apart from the goalkeeper, we didn’t play well. Adam was outstanding today and won us the points.”
Asked if he could explain why his side were so off the pace, Wilder replied: “I can’t. We’ve not done a lot of training over the last two days but that’s not an excuse.
“I was scratching my head because there were so many things - they were physically better than us, they won first and second balls and they were brighter.
“We didn’t pass it very well and we played as individuals but this is what happens in a 46-game season. I have no doubt that we’ll play really well on another day and not get a result but we have to be better than we were today.
“Out passing was off. We try to move the ball through the thirds and when we’re not playing well we simplify it. We wanted two targets at the top of the pitch and play back-to-front football and get it wide and cross the ball.
“We tried to simplify it for the players because it wasn’t going well and we didn’t want to over-complicate it.
“Too many players had off days and the keeper deservedly came out as Man of the Match
Wilder also touched on the support from Cobblers fans with a bumper crowd inside Sixfields for this festive fixture, adding: “I thought the supporters backed the team tremendously well today.
“I’ve always said it’s a two-way thing. We can’t always rely on them because we have to get the supporters off their seats and play well in the majority of games.
“But when we don’t play well I’m grateful that we’ve got fantastic support down here that helps the players and don’t get on their backs, because there was plenty of opportunities for that to happen today.”