Match-winner Matt Crooks was delighted to get off the scoring mark on Saturday, and says the hard-fought 1-0 win over Doncaster Rovers ‘takes the pressure off’ the Cobblers
Crooks scored the only goal of the game after just 21 seconds of play, lifting a George Smith pull-back into the roof of the net with a crisp left-foot strike, and after such a torrid start to the season the win was a huge relief for everybody connected with the club.
Town went into the game off the back of four straight defeats in Sky Bet League One and with a new manager in place, with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink taking charge of his first game following the sacking of Justin Edinburgh.
Everybody was hoping the Dutchman’s reign at Sixfields would get off to a flying start, and that is exactly what happened with Crooks’ early strike securing the team’s first win since March 14, and the former Rangers man was delighted to get that first win in Cobblers colours under his belt.
“It was a good performance, we have got the first three points now and that probably takes the pressure off us,” said the midfielder.
“Hopefully we will have the confidence and freedom to play on from this now, and start playing some football and getting some points on the board.”
Crooks’ finish for the goal was an assured one, but it was set up by a darting run down the left by Smith who then showed great composure to bide his time and perfectly tee up Crooks.
It was Smith’s first start for the club, with Hasselbaink clearly impressed with what he had seen of the former Gateshead man in th four days training he had with the players last week.
Overlooked by Edinburgh in the opening weeks of the campaign, aside from a nine-minute cameo in the Carabao Cup at Queens Park Rangers, Smith was thrown straight into the action on the left side of midfield, and made an instant impact.
“It was good for George,” said Crooks. “That was his first game for Northampton, and it was the perfect start for him and the perfect start for us.
“He played really well, and I am sure he went home happy.”
Hasselbaink made a couple of tactical and personnel changes to the Town team, with one of those being to play Crooks in a more attacking role from midfield.
The 23-year-old scored and also had other chances. and he feels it is a position that suits him.
“Maybe they didn’t expect me to play so high up the pitch, but I enjoyed it up there and probably could have scored a couple more,” said Crooks.
“Hopefully I will be able to get on the ball more as well and try and do a bit more for the team.”
“Before, I was in the midfield two and I maybe had to sit back a little bit more.
“But I feel I can now use my legs and get in behind, and try and use the ball in different areas, and I enjoyed it.”
The Cobblers return to league on action on Tuesday night when they host Portsmouth at Sixfields (ko 7.45pm).