Chris Wilder admitted the Cobblers turned in a ‘below-par performance’ during their home defeat to Carlisle United but refused to cite the absence of Marc Richards and Ricky Holmes as a major factor.
Town were without two of their best attacking players for the visit of the Cumbrians and it told, with a toothless attacking display leading to a 2-0 loss.
They slip a point further off the Sky Bet League Two play-off places (the gap is now four) but Wilder conceded the team missed a chance to make up some vital ground with their defeat to a side who have now completed a double over them.
“Our standards have been very high but that was a below-par performance from us and it’s a missed opportunity,” he said.
“But this is a tough league and teams are fighting for their lives, they aren’t going to come here and roll over for us.
“We didn’t do enough in the final third to win the game but we had enough opportunities in the first half.
“We’ve been excellent recently but we didn’t have our usual tidy play around their box and I don’t think any single player can stick their hand up and say they’ve had a good game.
“Carlisle were happy to sit deep and made it very difficult for us but we were very laboured and lacked any zip and sharpness.
“They’ve hit us on the break with two quick goals and we never recovered from that.”
There was some good news on the injury front with the scan on Ricky Holmes’ knee showing the damage was not as serious as initially feared, and the player will not need an operation.
Carlisle were happy to sit deep and made it very difficult for us but we were very laboured and lacked any zip and sharpnessCobblers boss Chris Wilder
“We we’re missing two big players tonight but that isn’t the reason we’ve lost,” he said.
“We’ve played poorly in both games against Carlisle and they’ve taken six points off us.”
“Ricky (Holmes) has had a scan and doesn’t need an operation so that’s about the only positive thing from today.”