Cobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was full of praise for the way Joe Bunney bounced back from a difficult few weeks to play a starring role in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Shrewsbury Town.
Three days earlier, Bunney’s mistake had allowed Rotherham United to take the lead against Town, paving the way for a 3-0 victory, and that appeared to dent his confidence for the rest of the game.
While he evidently has talent, there were numerous calls for him to be taken out of the firing line ahead of Tuesday’s game against high-flying Shrewsbury Town, but Hasselbaink stuck by his defender, albeit in a different position, and Bunney repaid his manager’s faith with an excellent display.
Playing at left wing-back, the 24-year-old looked a player transformed as he regularly galloped up and down the wing, supplying an inch-perfect cross for Shay Facey’s first-half opener while also making several important defensive interventions at the other end.
“I think we have to applaud him after Saturday and after the mistake and after how tough he had it,” said Hasselbaink.
“To come out, to battle, to show that courage and to still want to get on the ball and drive us forward, I think you need to need to say to him well done and well played.
“For me, he was the man of the match. Ash Taylor played well but for Joe to come back from the last game shows a lot of courage.”
Another player to impress was Boris Mathis.
On his full debut for the club, the 20-year-old striker put in a tireless shift up front and was also instrumental Facey’s goal, showing strength to hold off three defenders and tee up Bunney for the cross.
“We needed some fresh energy and somebody who people don’t know,” added Hasselbaink. “He could give us something different.
“He did really well. He worked really hard and that’s what we wanted - we wanted him to get behind and hold the ball up and bring other players into play and try to score goals.
“The latter didn’t happen but he caused Shrewsbury problems.”