Northampton manager Rob Page has backed midfielder Jak McCourt to return a better player after his costly red card against Millwall on Saturday.
Already on a booking, which he picked up inside 14 seconds, McCourt made the fatal error of going in for a risky lunge early in the second-half knowing that he’d be sent for an early bath if mistimed.
And having missed the ball and instead cleaned out the man, the young midfielder duly saw red.
It came at a bad time too with Northampton building momentum and looking to get back into the game having trailed to Lee Gregory’s first-half opener.
Calum Butcher added the crucial second goal shortly after McCourt’s red before Steve Morrison ensured Marc Richards’ header was nothing more than a consolation.
On McCourt’s sending off, Page said: “He’ll look back on it and be disappointed because it was the worst possible start for him to be booked after 14 seconds.
“That’s his game, he likes the physical aspect and he likes his tackles.
“He was on the back foot from the early booking and he had to be careful with every challenge he made after that.
“I had a chat with him at half-time and told him to be discipline, don’t go to ground, stay on your feet and defend properly.
“But that’s the decision he’s made. He thought he could win the ball but the problem is, if you don’t you’re going to be off and it’s not a gamble worth taking.
I’d be more concerned if we had conceded six and teams had played through us, but they haven’t – it’s been our own mistakes.Rob Page on his side’s defending
“But he’ll learn from it. He’s been outstanding since he’s come into the football club.
“It’s a harsh lesson for him but we have to move on, put it to bed and get it out of the system.”
What also disappointed Page on Saturday was his side’s abject defending with the Cobblers conceding three goals for the second successive home game, but he’s confident those errors will be eradicated over time.
He added: “All three goals were soft and you can do all the work you want during the week but we have to eradicate those problems as soon as we can.
“Then we’ll give ourselves a chance because in the main they’ve been consistent with their levels of performance, but Saturday wasn’t good enough defensively and that’s frustrating.
“I’d be more concerned if we had conceded six and teams had played through us, but they haven’t – it’s been our own mistakes.
“I can deal with that because I can deal with individuals and work as a unit more so than if teams were playing through us.
“It’s individual errors that have cost us and we’ll address it and go and put it right.”