Boss Chris Wilder believes his team’s performance in their 2-1 defeat to Portsmouth on Saturday proves the Cobblers can compete with the best in Sky Bet League Two.
Wilder was not a happy man in the immediate aftermath of the loss to Pompey, who bagged the points with an 86th-minute counter-attack winner from Conor Chaplin.
A few days on, the Town manager is still not happy at the defeat, but he is also now a little more positive about how his players went about their business.
Asked what he had learned about his team in the loss to Portsmouth, Wilder said: “I’ve learned that we can compete at the top of this league, without a shadow of a doubt.
“It was fine margins that decided that game on Saturday.
“We were up against a top club in this division, with top players, and we went toe-to-toe with them.
“I thought we were outstanding in the first half-hour even though they were a massive threat on the counter-attack.
“And we were a little bit of luck, or a little bit of a gamble on that short corner, from going 2-0 up.”
The main focus of Wilder’s anger after the game was the way the Cobblers conceded the winner, with Pompey scoring after breaking from a Town attacking corner.
Wilder still puts the goal down to ‘poor organisation’ by his team, but in retrospect also praised the visitors for the speed and ruthless thrust of their attack, admitting he would ‘have been delighted’ if the Cobblers had scored a goal like that.
So the manager’s mood has lightened since the weekend, but he is making no excuses for being an angry man whenever his team don’t reach the standards expected of them and lose games.
“We can take great heart from the way we went about the game, but the bottom line is we lost,” said Wilder.
“I apologise for being a bit grumpy afterwards, but that’s what happens, we are professionals and we don’t like losing.
“If professionals walk away and are happy with how they have played and have lost the game, then they are not going to achieve.
“My players weren’t happy, my staff weren’t happy, but we go again, we move on quickly and that’s what we’ll do going into the York game.”
The Cobblers travel to Bootham Crescent to take on York City on Boxing Day (3pm), before hosting Accrington Stanley on December 28 (3pm) and then Barnet on January 2.