When Dean Austin came out to reflect on his side’s 2-2 draw at Carlisle United on Saturday, there was little talk of a hard-earned point away from home. Instead, the focus was on an opportunity missed as he looked to send the ‘unbelievable’ 349 visiting fans home happy.
Kevin van Veen and Matt Crooks were on target as Town battled back from 1-0 down to take a 2-1 lead before Hallam Hope’s swift leveller forced the visitors to settle for a point, but that was not what Austin had come all the way up to Cumbria for.
After full-time, when the Town boss headed over to thank the travelling fans for their superb support, he made a point of raising his right hand under his chin. Asked about that gesture, he explained: “If I wanted it for anyone today, it was for them (the fans) because it was an unbelievable turnout.
“They were fantastic and I felt for them because when you have that good a support come away from home, you want to take the three points.
“Now that’s not always possible but it was a very good opportunity for us to take the win today and we came up short.
“We’re going to be fine this season but for them it was me saying sorry that we haven’t got the three points and please keep your chins up and stay behind the team.”
The encouraging thing is that we’re still creating chances within games so that’s a positive, we just need a bit more guile and composure in the final third and we’re going to be fine.
It’s reasonable to assume that many of those 349 in the away end did not require any sort of apology after they were treated to an entertaining, if mistake-riddled, encounter at Brunton Park.
One thing seems certain: unlike last season, Cobblers fans look to be in for plenty of excitement over the next few months. That mainly owes to Austin’s refreshingly positive approach – underlined by Crooks’ superbly-worked goal against Carlisle – but there are also defensive frailties to be addressed, as exposed by the Cumbrians during a poor first-half display.
“We’ve got good players but we’re not always going to be able to play the way we want to and teams will try to stop us,” added Austin.
“I just thought we were a bit too lethargic and we didn’t move the ball quick enough and if we don’t move it quick enough, you get embroiled in a game that the other team might want to play and you give it away a bit cheaply.
“I don’t think it’s got anything to do with confidence, in fact I think sometimes it might be a bit of over-confidence because we feel we have the squad and the tools to put a marker down at this level.
“But it’s no good thinking it, you’ve got to do and do it and those are the things we’re working on. We’re two games into the season and it’s not the start we probably would have liked but you’ve got to turn performances into wins.”
One thing Austin did praise about his team’s performance was their character, something which has been questioned several times over the past 12 months. Trailing 1-0 and on the ropes, Town fought back admirably to take the lead against United, only for Hope to pounce on sloppy defending.
“There are a lot of people out there, some of them our own fans, that think this team is a team of soft centres after last year,” continued Austin. “But I know what this group is about and they’ll never give in; they don’t know when they’re beat.
“We had a few words at half-time with each other and we needed to be better, but we are going to improve.
“The encouraging thing is that we’re still creating chances within games so that’s a positive, we just need a bit more guile and composure in the final third and we’re going to be fine.”