Cobblers boss Rob Page could not hide his delight and pride after witnessing his side upset the form book with a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over West Brom in the second round of the EFL Cup on Tuesday.
Coming into this game as firm underdogs, not many would have given Northampton a chance given their form so far this season, but a tremendous performance full of character and quality saw them more than held their own against Premier League opposition.
Zander Diamond headed the Cobblers in front before goals from James McClean and Gareth McAuley either side of half-time put Albion in the driving seat, only for Town to come roaring back through Alex Revell.
That set up a pulsating extra 30 minutes and the two sides couldn’t be separating, meaning a penalty shoot-out which went the way of Northampton thanks to Kenji Gorre’s composed spot-kick.
“I thought we showed true character and I thought the performance was one I am very, very proud of,” said a beaming Page afterwards.
“To lose the goal at the end of the first-half was disappointing but fair play to Smudge, he showed true character to come back, and then again I was disappointed to concede a second goal at the start of the second-half, but I’ve said to them afterwards, they’re a Premier League team and a good team and last season they were top for scoring from set-pieces.
“That’s near enough to where we want to get to and the fans were outstanding tonight and they saw tonight what we’ve been trying to do.
“Defensively we’ve been solid and well-organised but from an attacking point of view we’ve let ourselves and we know that.
“But we’ve come up a level and we knew we had to patient because it wasn’t all going to come together over night.
“It might have taken us four or five games to get to that level, but we’ve shown glimpses of what we’re capable of now and fair play to the senior boys, they’ve been saying that themselves.
“Now we take it into the league and make sure we acquit ourselves in the same manner in which we have done tonight and focus on taking three points on Saturday.
“We’ll enjoy the moment of course but our focus on what is now a big game on Saturday.”
On the torture of a penalty shoot-out, Page added: “It’s an absolute nightmare! You’ve done your work, you’ve picked the order and then it’s down to them to show character and to show bravery.
“And fair play to them, they did that.
“It’s been a frustrating time for Kenji so far and he hasn’t really shown what I’ve seen in him but tonight I thought he did.
“He threatened to go down the outside, he picked the right times to come inside and that’s the Kenji I know, and then to show the character to step up and score the winning penalty is credit to himself.
“It’s a nightmare to watch a shoot-out but when they miss two you’re confident you’ll go on to win and we did that.”