Hasselbaink dishes out the praise after Cobblers shock high-flying Bantams

BEST OF THE SEASON? Town's performance at Bradford was 'very, very pleasing' for boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds
BEST OF THE SEASON? Town's performance at Bradford was 'very, very pleasing' for boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds

Cobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink wore a beaming smile as he declared himself 'very, very pleased' with his side's excellent performance at Valley Parade on Saturday when they shocked high-flying Bradford City 2-1.

The Bantams came into the game placed fifth in Sky Bet League One and very much in the mix for automatic promotion, as well as the play-offs, but their poor home record this season continued when undone by the resilient Cobblers.

Having gone unbeaten at Valley Parade last term, Northampton became the seventh visiting team to come away with three points this campaign and it was a victory that was as hard-earned as it was fully deserved.

After edging the first-half, John-Joe O'Toole headed Town into a lead on the cusp of half-time and Chris Long added a second on the hour-mark with a clinical low finish that wrong-footed City goalkeeper Lukas Raeder.

Bradford inevitably piled forward as time ticked and away but Paul Taylor's free-kick, which crept into the bottom corner in injury-time, came too late to save them and the Cobblers hung on for their most impressive victory of the season, one which offers real hope for the rest of the season.

"I'm very, very pleased with the performance, especially in the first-half," said Hasselbaink afterwards. "I thought we bossed it and they didn't have an answer for us and we were really dangerous on the break but also when we had the ball we controlled the game.

Debutant Richard O'Donnell produces a flying save

Debutant Richard O'Donnell produces a flying save

"In the second-half, they changed from a lopsided to a 3-4-3 and put Nathaniel Knight-Percival up front to have a little bit more physicality and we did OK in the first 20, 25 minutes.

"Our intensity dropped a little bit and we got in trouble but I thought we contained the problems really well and then they scored and it was squeaky bum time!

"With the position we're in things can come into your head when you concede but we stuck together, we pulled through and we managed the game and saw it out.

"At 2-0, we could have made it 3-0 or 4-0 but we didn't and those are the moments when we have to be more clinical and killed the game off.

"But overall, I'm very happy with the performance and even more so with the result."

There were undoubtedly some tense moments towards the end of the game, especially after Taylor's free-kick, but Town survived five minutes of stoppage-time to cling on, with Ash Taylor and Regan Poole, plus debutant goalkeeper Richard O'Donnell, all playing their part at various stages on a boggy Valley Parade pitch.

The three points lift Northampton up a place to 21st in League One and while they remain in the bottom four for now, victory over MK Dons next weekend will see them climb out of the relegation zone.

"It was a heavy pitch but it's also a heavy pitch for them," added Hasselbaink. "They just changed the system and the dynamics changed. (Romain) Vincelot was in the middle of the three and every time he got the ball he spread it.

"We needed to stop him doing that but we didn't in the last 20 minutes and they had a little bit too much of the ball in the wide positions where it becomes a one-on-one and we didn't want that.

"We wanted to have pressure on the ball at all times and we did that well for 70 minutes which gave us the opportunity to score goals and we took them really well."