A thrilled Keith Curle has backed Harry Smith to kick-on from scoring his first Cobblers goal after revealing the striker was left 'angry and frustrated' by his disappointing start to the season.
Smith left Macclesfield in the summer and signed a three-year deal with Northampton but, despite starting the season as Curle's first-choice striker, he's endured a difficult time of it.
The 24-year-old started Town's first three league games but failed to score in any of them and then made way for Andy Williams, who took full advantage of his chance with four goals in six games.
Williams now looks Curle's go-to man but Smith was on target as a half-time substitute at Stevenage on Tuesday, rising high to head home the only goal of the game and finally open his account for the club.
"The goal was excellent and that is Harry Smith and he will score goals," said Curle afterwards.
"He's had a frustrating time waiting but while he's been waiting he's been working with myself, David Kelly and Colin West.
"It's frustrating for him because at times he's not been able to play his natural game and he's having to adhere to what we want him to do as our focal point, as a target man and as a combination player.
"Within that, we still want to express himself so it's a learning curve for the lad and I'm so pleased for him because he deserved that goal.
"He's frustrated and he's angry but he's determined to get in the team and I like those characteristics, even more so from my centre-forward."
With Vadaine Oliver also pushing for more game-time, Curle has three main strikers to pick from but Williams currently holds the advantage following his recent good form.
"We haven't bought players to not be starting and getting games and getting goals so that's the competition for himself (Smith), Vadaine Oliver and Andy Williams," Curle continued.
"They're three good strikers. Andy Williams has earned the shirt by scoring goals and his work ethic has been exemplary and he's been a standard-bearer for the younger lads.
"That's the minimum that's required and it's something we're working on with Vadaine and Harry - the work ethic and the attitude to work.
"Andy has chased around every blade of grass. Sometimes that's to no avail but the willingness to do it for the team, I can't fault him."