Smith optimistic despite Cobblers debut ending in ‘bitterly disappointing’ defeat

Michael Smith was thrown on as a second-half sub on Saturday. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds
Michael Smith was thrown on as a second-half sub on Saturday. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds

His first taste of life as a Cobbler ended in defeat but striker Michael Smith says he saw ‘more than enough’ on Saturday to feel confident that better times are just around the corner for his new side.

Beaten 2-1 Walsall for their 11th defeat in 14 league matches, Northampton remain unable to claw themselves away from the clutches of a relegation battle, with just five points now separating them and the bottom four.

But Saturday’s game offered encouragement as the Cobblers dominated the final 20 minutes and with some better finishing, they would have taken a deserved point, if not more, away from the Bescot Stadium.

Smith, who was making his debut having signed on loan from Portsmouth last week, was upbeat by what he witnessed despite obvious frustration.

“The gaffer came in and said a few things,” he said afterwards. “We know it’s not good enough.

“They were two disappointing goals to concede and it was disappointing that we only started playing at 2-1. I think we thoroughly deserved the 1-0 lead but it’s just bitterly disappointing to lose the game.

“On Thursday training was really intense and Friday was really good as well and from what I saw from the sidelines on Saturday we’ve got more than enough to get out of a relegation scrap, which we shouldn’t be in anyway.”

On as a second-half replacement to try and rescue a point – or even more – at Walsall, Smith was deployed as a target man but despite causing grief for the home back four, wasteful finishing from his team-mates resulted in defeat.

The biggest miss of all came in the fifth of six added minutes when Marc Richards blazed a penalty over the crossbar, denying his side a crucial point.

But Smith was philosophical afterwards, and confident his skipper will bounce back.

“People miss penalties, that’s football, but we should have been well in the game before that,” he added.

“Rico’s the penalty taker. It was only my third day and it’s not me to come in and put myself on penalties straightaway.

“It’s just one of those things. I’ve missed a hatful in my career and I’m sure Rico will bounce back from it

“It was just one of those days and I thought Walsall were very fortunate to come away with three points.”

The 6ft 4in striker was at the centre of several frantic goalmouth scrambles on Saturday as Northampton pushed for a late leveller but there would be no debut goal.

Smith described his second-half cameo as ‘hit and miss’, adding: “I was sent on to try and score a goal but I didn’t manage to so from that point of view I look at it as a disappointment.

“But I’m looking forward to Saturday and I’m just concentrating on myself and hopefully I can help the lads get a few wins on the board.”

On his decision to sign for the club, the 25-year-old continued: “I had a conversation with (Portsmouth manager) Paul Cook and it was decided that it was best for me to come here on loan which is fair enough.

“I’ve got a lot to thank Paul for and hopefully now I can help get Northampton to where they want to be.

“I had a good season and a half in League One with Swindon so I know all about it and I think they’re very similar but there are some big clubs in this league and we’ve got two massive games coming up.”