FEATURE: "I tried to sneak out the changing room!" - Smith reveals 'horrible' agony after sending off
Harry Smith was only on the pitch for 23 minutes of Tuesday’s game at Stevenage and yet he experienced the full range of emotions.
Sent on as a half-time substitute by Keith Curle, Smith’s long and frustrating wait for a first Cobblers goal was ended when he nodded home Nicky Adams’ cross and handed the visitors a crucial lead.
But any joy gleaned from that moment was replaced by anger 12 minutes later as two yellows in two minutes from everyone’s favourite referee, Charles Breakspear, equalled red and an early bath.
Then came the agony and the torture of having to listen to the final 25 minutes from the changing room. Thankfully, his team-mates defended heroically and bailed him out as Town made it back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
By his own admission, Smith was the most relieved man in the stadium when he heard the sound of Breakspear’s full-time whistle.
“It was nice to get the goal,” said the 24-year-old. “It was obviously a bit bittersweet with what followed afterwards but thankfully the lads saw the game out so it’s a weight off my shoulders
“The games I’ve played in Nicky’s put some good balls in but I probably haven’t been as sharp as I should have been but I’ve watched the goal back and I’m pretty happy with it!
“I’m just delighted to be off the mark and help us get the three points. It’s always nice to score but especially when it’s the match-winner in front of the fans who were brilliant. It’s a great feeling.”
Whilst Smith’s second yellow was a straightforward decision, his first left him and everyone else, not for the first time during the evening, scratching their heads.
“The first yellow card was a difficult one because I’m not sure what he booked me for,” added the striker.
“He booked their goalkeeper, turned around and looked at me and said he’s going to book me too so I was baffled by that.
“The second one I’ve looked at again. I thought I got the ball at the time and still think that but they never look pretty on replay and I’ve given the referee a decision to make.
“It’s naive on my part and I’ve apologised but fortunately the lads saw the win out and I’m really grateful for that.”
Forced to wait in the changing room following his red card, Smith could only sit and pray his team-mates saw the job through.
"I tried to sneak out and watch the game but you're not allowed out of the changing room when you get sent off and the stewards kept finding me so I had to sit there for 25 minutes and pray. It was horrible!
“They had a good go with the man advantage and you can here the reaction of the fans and I could hear them when they got a corner and things like that.
“I was just sitting there thinking ‘please, please, please’ because I knew if they scored it would have been a very different changing room at the end.
"It's unfortunate but it was my own doing so I was texting my agent asking all sorts of questions. He was giving the information and when I heard the final whistle I was the most relieved man in the stadium.
"I gave a little fist pump and went straight to the gaffer and said I'm sorry and apologised to the boys and held my hands up to the fans, but the boys dug me out of a hole and we'll take it with the match-winning goal!"