Midfielder Grimes says new faces have given Cobblers squad a big lift

Matt Grimes celebrates after hammering home the penalty that saw the Cobblers take a 2-1 lead against Southend United on Saturday
Matt Grimes celebrates after hammering home the penalty that saw the Cobblers take a 2-1 lead against Southend United on Saturday

Cobblers midfielder Matt Grimes says he and his team-mates have been given a ‘lift’ by the arrivals of four new faces this month.

Still in the relegation zone, it was hoped that January would be the month that gets Town’s season back on track and manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has quickly set about doing just that by bringing in four new players.

Two of those recruits, Shay Facey and Hildeberto Pereira, made their debuts in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Southend while midfielder Jack Bridge and goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell are in contention to make the squad for this weekend’s trip to Bradford City.

“It just gives the squad a lift,” revealed Grimes. “When players come back from injury or when you sign new players, it gives everyone a boost and if we can get one or two more real quality players in, hopefully we can move up the table.

“I don’t think we were necessarily lacking competition, but obviously our former manager made signings in the summer and the gaffer hasn’t had any of his players come in.

“So it’s difficult for him in that respect but now the transfer window is open and we’ve just got to get on with our jobs and not think about anything to do with players coming.

Matt Grimes

Matt Grimes

“When they do come in and when you can see they’ve got quality, it gives us a lift on the pitch and the fans as well.

“Pereira looks like a real decent player, as does Shay who got man of the match on Saturday. I thought he was brilliant.”

Grimes himself is on a season-long loan from Swansea City and despite Northampton’s struggles on the pitch, he says his time at Sixfields is going as well as he could have hoped for.

“It’s been absolutely perfect,” he said.

I don’t think we were necessarily lacking competition but obviously our former manager made signings in the summer and the gaffer hasn’t had any of his players come in

Cobblers midfielder Matt Grimes

“I came here looking to play every week and I’m doing that.

“The results haven’t gone as well as I’d have liked but I think we’re picking up now and if we keep matching our performance levels, we can get more points and climb up the table.”

The 22-year-old has been an ever-present in the league since Hasselbaink’s arrival.

He clearly has the talent - he wouldn’t be at a Premier League club if he didn’t - but it’s his consistency and ability to take games by the scruff of the neck that has been questioned by fans.

On Saturday, though, his well-taken penalty in the win over Southend coincided with a vastly improved performance, both from himself and the team, as they ran out deserved 3-1 winners.

On his penalty, which eased the nerves of an increasingly agitated home crowd, the midfielder said: “I’ve been practising them. I was taking them on Friday with (academy goalkeeper) James Goff and I put a few each side but I knew where I was going.

“Happily, I put it away but it’s about three points at the end of the day so I’m just happy for the team because we knew we had to win.

“They were struggling for a bit of form as well so playing here, with our fans behind us, we knew we had to put on a performance.

“The first-half wasn’t our best half but in the second I thought we really kicked on and played some good stuff and ultimately we got the three points so I’m happy!”

There were some anxious moments towards the end of the contest as Southend piled forward but this was victory was as merited as it was needed, lifting Town to within two points of safety.

“We deserved it,” continued Grimes. “You could see in the first-half that it was a game between two teams low in confidence and it was a bit shaky, but we got through to half-time at 1-1 and we said before the game that you don’t have to win it in the first 15 or 20 minutes.

“You’ve just got to keep your heads and we did that. We came out second-half and produced a much improved performance.”

On playing as the deepest of three midfielders alongside John-Joe O’Toole and Matt Crooks, he added: “I’d say that’s my preferred position. Obviously it gives Crooksy and John-Joe the licence to get forward so I’m happy to play there and do my defensive duties.

“I can get on the ball and start the play where I can so I’m enjoying it.”

Bradford is a tough next assignment for the Cobblers but a good performance at Valley Parade, if not result, will continue their momentum into the following week when the visit of MK Dons signifies another vital game.

“It’ll be a tough game but we showed against Wigan and Blackburn that we can mix it with the teams up there,” added Grimes.

“We’ll go there full of confidence. Obviously they’re in a good position but we’re looking forward to it and we know we can get the three points if we do what we’re capable of.”