Boss Justin Edinburgh shrugged off the Cobblers’ 2-0 pre-season defeat at AFC Rushden & Diamonds on Wednesday night and insisted he was happy with a second testing workout for his players in the space of 24 hours.
The Cobblers went into the game at Hayden Road just a day after playing another non-League side in Frome Town in Somerset on Tuesday, and were beaten thanks to goals from Ben Farrell and Tom Lorraine.
A goal in each half secured a deserved win for Andy Peaks’ men, and Edinburgh paid credit to Town’s hosts while at the same time admitting his own players’ performance was below par.
“In terms of the football performance I think it was disappointing, but looking beyond that we have played two games in two days,” said the Cobblers boss.
“We have rotated it, and again we have gone the minutes into the players’ legs that we wanted.
“Credit to Rushden, as they had the bit between their teeth and hustled and harried us.”
The players who were given 60 minutes at Frome on Tuesday were left sidelined until the final half-hour, while those who sat out the opening hour in Somerset started at Hayden Road and played for 60 minutes, although one or two weren’t involved.
“For me, it is all about continuing the progression of the players getting minutes, and staying clear of injuries, and we had one or two who were a little bit tight tonight,” said Edinburgh.
“We left out John-Joe O’Toole, and Ash Taylor, who played 90 minutes on Tuesday.
“As we hit the weekend the 90 minutes start kicking in, and that’s when players gain a real rhythm and start to get fluency into their game.”
Another player not involved at Rushden was new signing Matt Crooks, who again warmed up with the squad but didn’t play.
He may be involved in Saturday’s NFA Maunsell Cup Final against Kettering Town at Wellingborough’s Dog & Duck ground (ko 3pm), but it is a game in which Edinburgh is only allowed to use three substitutes as it is a competitive game.
And the Town boss knows that Saturday’s clash, which is two weeks prior to the Sky Bet League One opener at Shrewsbury Town, is where things also start to get more competitive for his players as they attempt to catch the eye and tie down their first team place.
“You never want to lose football matches, but I don’t too disappointed or too excited by results in pre-season,” said Edinburgh.
“Our mentality is we never want to lose matches that’s for sure, and it’s not something we enjoy doing.
“As we go into the weekend, it’s where we start to look at the results, and the style of play.
“This is where the players are now looking to nail down a place in the team, and from now on it is about competition for places.
“It’s about the style, the system, and we will really start to look at that.”
At Hayden Road, Rushden & Diamonds took the lead on 28 minutes when Farrell fired home a curling shot from just inside the penalty area.
The Cobblers enjoyed plenty of possession without making a breakthough, while Diamonds had other chances and they eventually struck a second past goalkeeper James Goff with 10 minutes remaining, Lorraine the scorer.
Starting line-ups: AFC Rushden & Diamonds: Heath, Westwood, Ford, Brown, Dolman, Gyasi, Smith, Bunting, Farrell, Shariff, Dillon. Subs: Curtis, Punter, Brown-Hill, Lorraine, Finlay, Hembury, Fairlamb.
Cobblers: James Goff, Brendan Moloney, Regan Poole, Jarvis Wilson (youth), George Smith, James Gillard (youth), Yaser Kasim, Prudence Anaele (youth), Leon Lobjoit, Alex Revell, Dean Bowditch. Subs: Aaron Phillips, Williams (youth), Leon Barnett, David Buchanan, Sam Foley, Matt Taylor, Daniel Powell, Roberts (youth), Billy Waters, Marc Richards
Scorers: 1-0 - Ben Farrell 28; 2-0 - Tom Lorraine 80
Bookings/red cards: None