KEITH Curle blamed a first-half no-show for his side's defeat at Northampton Town.

Latics trailed 2-0 at half-time after a defensive lapse gifted the Cobblers a 14th minute opener.

Curle made wholesale changes at the break and got a reaction in a much improved second half, in which Carl Piergianni gave them a lifeline with his fourth goal of the season.

But head coach Curle said the damage was done in the first 45 minutes.

"We lost it in the first," he said. "The players didn't turn up. They thought they could just roll out a performance like they did on Saturday by getting against Port Vale.

"(There was) a lack of understanding of what we did well against Port Vale. We had fight, we had energy, didn't have it in the first half. Second half, we know it's there and I think that's the frustrating thing for myself."

Curle kept his players in the dressing room for up to an hour after the final whistle for a post-match inquest.

"The players know I need more - me as an individual as their manager, as their coach I need more," he said.

"I'm going to demand more, and I have been demanding more. When somebody doesn't deliver what I believe that they're capable of I tell them, but I tell them in the right way, in a way that it sinks in.

"There's an easy way of telling them and using expletives and effing and jeffing, but modern day players don't respond to that. But they've got to be told to be told the honest truth. If I think somebody hasn't gone in for tackles, hasn't competed then I've got to tell them.

"I want more of the second half. First half was unacceptable, second half acceptable. They won the first half, we won the second half."

Curle is now calling for his side to be switched on for a full game.

"As a group we haven't turned up in the first 45 minutes (at Northampton). Second half we got on the front foot. We made them look average, first half they made us look below average," he continued.

"We had the last 25 (minutes) half an hour of the game on Saturday (against Port Vale) where I thought we did very well. In the second half (at Northampton) we did very well.

"We need to turn up for 90-95 minutes. We can't give anybody a two-goal head start. But it seems like when we go a goal behind or two goals behind we come out of our shell. It takes character and we need to get that character, build on that character and tell the boys there's nothing wrong with competing because when we do we're a decent team."