Town composure and maturity delights boss Hasselbaink
Cobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink hailed the maturity, composure and resilience of his team in Tuesday's 0-0 draw at MK Dons.
The Town manager has stated he felt the team deserved to win, but the fact they stood firm and claimed something from the game pleased him, especially after successive 1-0 defeats to Wigan Athletic and Bradford City.
The Cobblers controlled the clash at Stadium MK, defending strongly as a team unit, and playing some attractive football in possession.
It was the most complete performance by a Town team for a long, long time, and the best overall since Hasselbaink took charge six matches ago.
"I am very happy with how we played, and the composure we put on the match," said the Town boss.
"It's not an easy place to go to, because they (MK) are a good playing side, and let's not forget, two years ago they were in the Championship.
"They have invested heavily in certain players, so to play that kind of game, and play the kind of football we did at times was very good.
"I was pleased and the boys deserved more, but we didn't get it, and if we cannot win then we don't lose. That is very important, and I must say that the maturity in the team was second to none."
The team did show maturity, and what is even more impressive it did so with a clutch of young players in key positions, such as teenage midfielder Regan Poole and the likes of Matt Grimes, Raheem Hanley and Matt Crooks.
"We have good, young players, with good energy, and at the end they were a little bit tired, but that is a process," said Hasselbaink.
"We are getting fitter, we are working harder for each other, and I must say we were very compact and very together, and it was nice to see."
Another factor in the Cobblers' strong defensive showing was the performance of goalkeeper Matt Ingram, who was quick off his line on a couple of occasions to snuff out danger.
"I like that he is very calm, but always there," said Hasselbaink. "That is especially needed when you are playing high up the pitch, when you are pressing.
"The balls over the top are going to be important, so you need a goalkeeper that plays with the team, and he did that really well on Tuesday."
So, are the players beginning to really get the Hasselbaink message after just three weeks in the job?
"I hope so, but it is also about getting their own messages," said the Cobblers boss, who has overseen two wins, two draws and two defeats in his six matches in charge.
"Confidence is a big thing, but the more you get these performances, the better it is in the head, and the more they wll try. That is where we need to get to."