Cobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has challenged more of his players to follow in the footsteps of Matt Grimes and ‘take responsibility’ at crucial moments in games after the midfielder’s superb match-winning free-kick at the weekend.
With 17 minutes left on the clock and the scores locked at 1-1 apiece in Saturday’s crunch basement battle with fellow strugglers Gillingham, Grimes curled in a sumptuous free-kick from 25 yards, via the inside of both posts, to ensure the three points headed back up the M1.
Earlier, Daniel Powell’s equally fine strike put Town ahead at the break before Lee Martin levelled on the hour-mark as Northampton earned a first away win of the season and only a third victory of any kind in the league.
“The goal to make it 1-1 was a little bit disappointing because I think we could have done better, but then Matt Grimes pops up with a brilliant free-kick,” said Hasselbaink.
“It was a brilliant goal which we needed at that time. We needed somebody to turn up and take responsibility and rise to the occasion.
“We need individuals like that, players and characters to stand up and be counted and Grimes did that at the right moment.
“Did he have his best game? No. But it’s a moment that he needed to show what kind of player he is.”
Saturday’s hard-fought victory, achieved at a wind-swept Priestfield, concluded a satisfying few days for the Cobblers following their 2-2 comeback draw at Rochdale in midweek.
Hasselbaink is hopeful those two results signal a much-needed reversal in form for his side, who remain in the Sky Bet League One relegation zone and still three points adrift of safety.
“I hope it’s a turning point but I think it’s important to keep two feet on the floor,” he added.
We need individuals like that, players and characters to stand up and be counted and Grimes did that at the right moment.
“It’s a week of battling. We battled really well on Tuesday where we came away with a point when we deserved more, but we didn’t cry and we went to Gillingham and started again.
“We came away with three points and four points is very good for two away games, and now we’ve got a week to train again and hopefully get better with certain things.
“Hopefully the confidence grows and our identity grows and we keep on improving as a team.”
Going back to Saturday, there was mixed team news for the Cobblers before kick-off when the blow of losing Brendan Moloney to a knee injury was offset by having John-Joe O’Toole among the starting line-up for the first time since April.
“After Tuesday, Brendan came off the pitch and everything was OK but when he went to bed and woke up, he had lots of fluid in his knee,” explained Hasselbaink.
“So we could not risk him on Saturday.
“Having John-Joe back is good for us. He’s still not 100 per cent fit but it’s nice to see him back and good to have another addition to the squad with us.”