ARGYLE Manager Derek Adams had no doubts over where he ranked his side’s performance in their 2-0 defeat to Northampton Town, as they struggled to match up to the fired-up Cobblers.
An intense affair was always expected at Sixfields, with both teams seeking a win to remain on track with their end-of-season aspirations. Northampton, fighting just to stay in the division, defied their league position and put in a committed, yet organised display that the Greens, for once, were unable to match.
John-Joe O’Toole opened the scoring for the hosts just before half time, prodding in after Daniel Powell’s mis-hit shot fell to his feet, guiding them to a victory that Adams felt they fully deserved.
“We weren’t good enough today,” said Derek. “Northampton were far better than us today. They bullied us over the 90 minutes and they won the game, and deservedly so.
“They had a wee bit of fight about them today. They’ve got three games left in the season and they’re looking to get out of the relegation zone. They looked like a team that wanted to do that. We didn’t look like a team that wanted to get into the play-offs today. That’s something I can’t say about my team before, because we’ve done ever so well to put ourselves in this position.
“At this stage in the season, when they’re down the bottom they need a lift, and they got the lift. They saw the relief in the players. They saw the relief in the stands as well, and they got tremendous backing from them vocally to keep them going.”
The Pilgrims did threaten at times to force their way back into match, most notably with a strong spell at the start of the second half. Once Northampton overcame that period, though, they took over the match with waves of attacks, eventually leading to Sonny Bradley finding his own net as he tried to deal with Powell’s cross. A goal for Argyle may have thrown some doubt into the minds of the home side, but Derek does not believe his side crafted enough chances to create that scenario.
“This game wasn’t as open as I thought it was going to be,” said Adams, “because we didn’t open up Northampton too many times. When we did, we didn’t pick the right pass to get us in.
“We had two really good opportunities right at the start of the second half with Ruben. We just didn’t pick the right option or get a shot on target at that moment in time. That could’ve got us back to 1-1 very quickly. We didn’t, and they got a bit of confidence from it.
“Northampton today were far better than us, all over the pitch. Remi Matthews has kept us in the game so many times, and we didn’t really do well in any areas other than that. The back four got bullied. The midfield lost their battles in there, and up front we weren’t a threat. We didn’t create enough opportunities.
“We could’ve stopped a number of things today, but you’ve got to give credit to Northampton. They were the better side.”
Despite the defeat, Argyle’s destiny is still in their own hands, sitting outside the top six but with games in hand over teams above them. With a chance to make that advantage count coming against Rochdale on Tuesday night, the boss is keen to address the issues from this performance and keep his side’s push for the play-offs on course.
“We’re sitting in seventh position,” said Derek, “we’ve got four games, and we’ve still got the opportunity to get into the play-offs.
“We have to do a lot better than we did today. It was probably as poor a performance as I’ve seen in a long time. I probably haven’t seen a worse one this season that nhe one we’ve had today.”