Midfielder Paul Anderson admitted it was a ‘bittersweet’ feeling after the Cobblers confirmed their Sky Bet League One survival courtesy of results elsewhere following Saturday’s ‘embarrassing’ 3-0 defeat to Bury.
Northampton only required a draw from their trip to Gigg Lane to avoid relegation with a game to spare this season but they were comfortably second best against Lee Clarke’s struggling Shakers.
James Vaughan scored early on and then again with virtually the last kick of the game while George Miller took advantage of some hesitant defending to net in between.
Despite their poor performance and disappointing defeat though, Northampton knew they had done enough to stay up when confirmation of Port Vale’s defeat to Bolton Wanderers filtered through.
“It’s bittersweet really,” admitted Anderson. “We were embarrassing, we didn’t turn up and I think the boys have to hold their hands up and offer a big apology for the Millwall game and for Saturday’s performance.
“It’s not like us and we didn’t want to be one of those teams where other sides did us a favour.
We were embarrassing, we didn’t turn up and I think the boys have to hold their hands up and offer a big apology for the Millwall game and for Saturday’s performance.
“It’s nice to be safe and we’ve worked hard all season to get to this point – that was the whole aim of the season and we have to look at it as a positive that we’re going to be in League One – but we’re disappointed in the changing room.
“I think every single player holds their hands up and no one can walk away with their head held high.”
Saturday’s defeat was particularly painful viewing for the 772 fans who had undertaken the 300-mile round trip to Bury.
“The fans are going to be just as disappointed as us,” acknowledged Anderson. “The lads have worked their socks off for the club and for the shirt and for the fans.
“It was an amazing turnout. It’s not a short journey and we thank every single supporter home and away because they’ve backed us all season and it’s a shame that we couldn’t give them something to cheer about even though we are safe.
“It would have been nice to come away looking a bit better than we did.”
Anderson also downplayed suggestions that he and his team-mates have switched off in recent games after virtually guaranteeing safety a few weeks ago.
Traditionally, 51 points has invariably been enough to avoid relegation in League One over the past decade. Northampton reached that target with a 1-1 draw at Rochdale three weeks ago, prompting suggestions that some players may have lost concentration in their previous three performances, all of which have been below-par.
“I don’t think so,” Anderson said. “I can’t speak for other players but I hate losing.
“I’m not a person who shouts and screams but I will work my socks off and do everything for myself and for the team and I think anyone can say that about me.
“Other lads have to answer that question themselves and I don’t think for one second anyone has gone into any game thinking that they’re not going to give their all.
“We want to win every single week and I think Saturday was a real disappointing afternoon.
“We’re safe and that was the aim and hopefully we can give the fans something to enjoy at the weekend.”