Cobblers boss Chris Wilder admitted his side were off the pace against Shrewsbury at Sixfields on Saturday but was pleased to see them take a point from a below-par performance.
Town were indebted to Emile Sinclair, who had been made available for loan on Thursday, for the vital 90th-minute goal in a 1-1 draw with the Shrews.
Wilder’s side struggled to create much in the way of goalscoring chances against the visitors, who were reduced to 10 men after half an hour when Liam Lawrence was sent off for a two-footed challenge.
But the manager, while admitting things need to improve, was pleased to take a point from a difficult game.
“I thought we were the better side for the first half hour of the game but the sending off made them change the way they played,” said Wilder, whose team also drew 1-1 last Saturday at York, with another goal in the final minute of the game.
“We found it difficult after that and we didn’t get the ball wide enough.
“We played better against 11 players, but in the second half we slowed the game down too much and that made it easier for their 10 players.
“We gave away a cheap goal and that gave Shrewsbury an enormous lift.
“I was a bit disappointed with our forward play and our front two know they need to play a lot better than they did in this game.
“You can’t give teams cheap goals like we did; we set our standards and our sights much higher than they have been today.
“I will take a goal at any time in the game and I’m very pleased for Emile Sinclair.
“Shrewsbury are a very good side and they made it difficult for us to break them down.
“But the players kept going, despite not playing that well, and we’ve got a point out of it.”