Chris Wilder cited a lack of cutting edge in the final third as the reason for his side’s downfall after they were beaten 2-0 by Millwall in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday.
In a game that struggled to ever get going, Northampton dominated possession for long periods but they lacked the killer instinct to punish their League One hosts, who secured their passage through to the next round thanks to second-half goals from Aiden O’Brien and Lee Gregory.
Wilder said: “I’m disappointed to go out of the competition. I thought we were well in the game, we had a lot of possession and we felt we had the momentum going into the second half but their goal gave them a big boost.
“There was nothing in the game. We had a lot of of the ball without really hurting them and without creating clear-cut chances.
“When you’ve got the ball you have to create something at the top of the pitch, but we didn’t really open them up enough.
“Both teams had a couple of chances in the first half and we’ve hit the post late on, but we’re disappointed to go out of the competition because we felt this was an opportunity to progress.
“We’ve got to get over it quickly now. We won’t dwell on it and we’ll move onto Saturday.”
Wilder praised goalkeeper Ryan Clarke who made the most of a rare start by pulling off a number of top class saves from former Cobblers striker Steve Morison.
However, it remains unlikely that Clarke will be able to dislodge Adam Smith as Northampton’s number one.
Wilder added: “He’s got to play a few more games on the bounce and Adam will have to do something drastic.
“I’ve always said we’ve got the best two goalkeepers in the league by a million miles.
“Ryan’s been patient and has deserved this opportunity and he made some smart saves tonight.
“We’re just disappointed because with the way we had enough of the ball, we needed to be more positive with it.
“It was quite a slow game and you’ve got to get yourself going and they did when they scored and it was an uphill battle from then on.”