Cobblers boss Keith Curle wants to see more ‘aggression’ from his team after he was left surprised by the lack of it in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Exeter City, particularly during the first-half.
Town dipped below their recent improved standards for the opening 45 minutes at St James Park and paid the price when goals from Jake Taylor and Jayden Stockley left them deservedly trailing 2-1 at half-time.
They could have been facing more than a one-goal deficit as sloppy mistakes presented further chances for the home side, but Billy Waters struck against the run of play to keep them within touching distance at the interval.
Although the Cobblers then upped their game in the second-half, they had to wait until the final minute of normal time to snatch a point when a combination of Andy Williams and Exeter’s Stockley deflected David Buchanan’s corner beyond goalkeeper Christy Pym and over the line.
“We’re growing in belief and I thought we finished the game the more aggressive team,” said Curle, whose team have lost just once in eight league matches under his guidance. “The demands at half-time were that we need to start games on the front foot and be more aggressive and be more dominant.
“There’s nothing wrong with being aggressive. That’s not me saying I want players to go and get booked or go flying into silly challenges, but having an aggressive demeanour means that you do things in an aggressive manner.
That’s not me saying I want players to go and get booked or go flying into silly challenges, but having an aggressive demeanour means that you do things in an aggressive manner.
“That can be passing or demanding things off other people. How about telling someone to do it and get it done instead of asking, and I thought we lacked that bit of aggression in the first-half.”
Northampton’s increased belligerence since Curle took charge has helped tighten things up in defence and yielded more positive results in general, but he says they are far from the finished article.
He continued: “For those players who come on a journey with me, that aggressiveness will become second nature in their demeanour.
“We’re not going to go out and fight everybody, but we’ll be on the front foot and accept challenges and you need to be aggressive. You need to be willing to accept those challenges and come out on top.
“We can’t do things in a loose manner and I’ve told the players we have to tidy up, individually and collectively, and demand that level of aggression from each other.
“People sometimes say challenges are overzealous, well I’d rather be that than be on the back foot and accepting people coming through us.”