The knack of knowing how to close games out with astute game management is still one the Cobblers must improve, manager Keith Curle admits, following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Stevenage at the PTS Stadium.
For the second home game running, Town let slip their first-half supremacy and allowed the away side back into the contest, surrendering a winning position against both Grimsby Town and Dino Maamria’s Stevenage.
Dean Bowditch converted the last of several first-half opportunities for the Cobblers in stoppage-time on Saturday when converting a cross from Daniel Powell, who himself had spurned a glaring chance earlier in the game.
But the hosts could not reclaim the upper-hand after half-time and were made to pay by Ben Kennedy, who capitalised on David Cornell’s unfortunate slip to hand Stevenage a draw and cost Cobblers two valuable points in their bid to climb the table.
“We won’t get things all our own way and we have to earn the right and earn that bit of good fortune, but we do that by working and learning,” said Curle afterwards.
“We had good dominance in the fist-half and showed a sprinkling of what’s to come but we have to have that game understanding and discipline in our play that simple is good and, when you get the rewards, keeping doing it.
We had the opportunity to put the game to bed on Saturday and didn’t take it so we still need better game management and to improve the mentality
“I like winning football matches and if I can’t win them, I like to draw. I dislike losing so we see it as a point earned and we still on that learning curve as a group - myself, the staff and the players. We’re instilling good, simple methodology in the way we want the game played.”
The Cobblers had won only seven of their 33 games in 2018 before Curle replaced Dean Austin in October – a win percentage of just 21 – but, since then, they’ve taken all three points in seven of 16 games – a win percentage of 44 – and lost just twice.
Nevertheless, Curle believes his side still have some way to go until they master the art of closing games out on a more consistent basis, adding: “There’s a mentality in the dressing room that we’re learning.
“We’re learning about ourselves and we’re learning how to win games. We did that very well last week with a very accomplished away performance (at Crawley).
“We had the opportunity to put the game to bed on Saturday and didn’t take it so we still need better game management and to improve the mentality of doing the simple things and playing forward when you have options or putting the ball into good areas.”