Cobblers boss Chris Wilder has hinted he could be tempted into making changes for this weekend’s home game against Barnet after Monday’s below-par performance against Accrington.
Wilder admitted after the 1-0 win over Stanley that his side were fortunate to come away with the spoils after a performance which belied their lofty league position, with the victory taking Northampton up to second in Sky Bet League Two.
But performances will have to improve if they are to maintain that promotion challenge, as noted by Wilder, with Adam Smith having a far busier game than Cobblers fans would have liked.
The in-form keeper had to be at his best to preserve the points for Town as Stanley cut apart the home side on several occasions, though it was at the other end where the only goal of the game was scored; Marc Richards heading home a Ricky Holmes cross.
But Wilder didn’t paper over the cracks, conceding that his side were second best.
He said: “You’re scratching your head and wondering where to start. How many substitutions can you make? You’re allowed to make three but I’d love to have made 10 at half-time and they knew that.
“You try and get yourself through a game. You don’t make too many substitutions too early in case you lose somebody through injury so we had to try and plot and plan our way through.
“We needed to simplify our game because it was one of those games where we didn’t play well.
“It doesn’t happen many times and 46 points from 23 games is a great achievement at the halfway mark and we’re set to do well but I’m not kidding myself - we need to play miles better than we have done againstt Accrington to continue going well and the players know that.
“There’s enough quality and enough ability in this group to get us going again.
The performance begs the question as to whether Wilder will be persuaded to mix things up for this Saturday’s home clash against lowly Barnet, especially with the likes of Holmes and Sam Hoskins pushing for a start.
Wilder did hint that he may be tempted to give others a go, saying: “I don’t think I can be knee-jerk about it but I have said to the players that I can’t lose my integrity with the Jason Taylors, the Sam Hoskins, the Dominics and the Rickys and the other players who aren’t getting a game.
“This is professional football and while we have a fantastic team spirit, this an individual sport and if we want to get into the next division everyone has to get onboard because the club’s going to go places.
“It’s only one game so I won’t be mad about it, but my players have got to play well and with the group that I’ve got and the players that are not getting games, you need to play well to get into the team and when you get into the team, you’ve got to keep playing well.
“That’s what it’s all about and that’s when they have to look after themselves and play well, and if they do, they stay in.
“If I have to freshen it up from Saturday to Tuesday then I will do but that’s the nature of the business.”