Harry Smith has promised Cobblers supporters they have by no means seen the best of him after he scored his second goal for the club on Tuesday.
Smith left Macclesfield at the end of last season and quickly put pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Cobblers.
But his performances so far have received mixed reviews from supporters, with his well-taken goal at Stevenage offset by a couple of ineffective showings.
He’s well aware of the fact he needs to improve, though, and hopes his winning goal at Cambridge United on Tuesday will kick-start his season.
“It’s definitely been frustrating for me so far,” admitted the 24-year-old. “I don’t think anyone has seen what I’m capable of.
“I don’t think you’ll meet a bigger critic of myself than me. I’m always beating myself up, regardless of whether or not someone else thinks I’ve played well.
“If you look back over my career, for some strange reason I’ve always been a bit of a slow-starter at clubs and I’ve only got going leading up to Christmas and beyond.
“So I think there’s a long way for me to go and hopefully my goal will give me a bit of confidence moving forward.”
Smith’s size, standing at an imposing 6ft 5in, often tempts Cobblers into playing too long, too often, but as Tuesday’s performance against Cambridge demonstrated, he’s most effective when the service into him is both accurate and varied.
Town were fluid and cohesive in the first-half at the Abbey Stadium, and whilst they didn’t create a hatful of chances, Smith’s stabbed finish on 17 minutes, the result of superb approach work from Reece Hall-Johnson, was enough to win the game.
The former Millwall man added: “Reece went on a mazy run – he thought he was Messi for a minute! – and I just got there and managed to scoop it past the goalkeeper.
“It was obviously nice to get the goal and I’m happy with that but more importantly we won the game and put ourselves in a good position in the group.
“It was a bit different from how we’ve played recently. We’ve been pretty direct but at times the back four and the middle two kept hold of the ball very well.”
Cobblers will now qualify from the group stage of the EFL TRophy unless Cambridge beat Arsenal U21s and Peterborough next month.
But Tuesday’s win wasn’t without alarm as United three times came close to equalising late on with Harrison Dunk shooting against his own team-mate and Andrew Fisher denying both Sam Smith and Andy Dallas.
“It was me, Willo and Billy up front and we rotated and I thought we controlled the game,” added Smith.
“We kept the ball well in the first-half and I didn’t really think they troubled us much in the second.
“They had a chance towards the end but Fish made a good save and other than that I felt we were in control without creating too much ourselves.”