'Underachieved' - Northampton boss' admission ahead of Portsmouth clash and pinpoints Blues' danger man

Northampton manager Keith Curle says there’s an argument Pompey have ‘underachieved’ to still be plying their trade in League One.

Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 10:30 am
Northampton boss Keith Curle. Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images

The Blues are into their fourth season in the third tier, having suffered play-off semi-final defeat – to Sunderland and Oxford – in successive campaigns.

The aim again this time around is to make a return to the Championship for the first time since 2012.

After a stuttering start, Kenny Jackett’s side have begun to show signs they’ve turned a corner following wins on the road at Gillingham and Sunderland and move up to fith in the table.

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After promotion via the League Two play-offs, the Cobblers have made a slow start to the campaign and sit 19th.

They were defeated 2-0 at home to Charlton last Saturday ahead of their trip to ‘huge club’ Pompey this evening.

And Curle is wary of in-form striker and ex-Cobbler John Marquis’ threat, having scored three goals in his past two games.

The Sixfields boss said: ‘Portsmouth are another very good team in this league and when you look at the size of the football club you might argue that they have underachieved to still be in this league.

‘They are a huge club. In Kenny Jackett they have got a very good manager, they play to their strengths and they have got some very good players.

‘I think they're playing a slightly more direct style than previously but that's to play to their strengths because they've got a fantastic finisher and good centre-forward in Marquis.

‘They're getting people in and around him more often and he knows where the goal is. They won't roll the ball out and execute too many passages of play to get into the final third."

‘There were positives for us to take from the game on Saturday but we need to be a little bit better in the final third.

‘The defining moments aren’t quite going our way and sometimes it is all down to the finer details, it can be all about the little things but just because they are the little things doesn’t mean that they aren’t important.

‘We need a little bit more craft not only in our defending but in our attacking play as well.

‘That will come the more games we play at this level and by grinding out results. Sometimes you need to fail to improve and the good players, when they lose, they learn.

‘We were very dogged in our defending against Swindon and that made the first goal we conceded on Saturday even more disappointing.

‘At the moment we are being tested and we are being stretched but we are not too far away.’