Chris Wilder had praise for debutant Danny Rose and midfield partner John-Joe O’Toole after Cobblers’ 4-0 win over Leyton Orient on Saturday.
Rose was not due to start in East London on Saturday but a neck injury suffered by Joel Byrom in the warm-up forced Wilder to hand a first start to the former Oxford man, who signed on deadline day in the January transfer window.
Though Byrom’s absence was a concern prior to kick-off, the blow was significantly softened by Rose who didn’t look out of place against Orient and showed some classy touches in the heart of midfield as he played his part in an impressive team performance alongside the outstanding O’Toole, who once again ran the show.
“We had a little bit of a hiccup before the game but you have to get over that and you have to face the challenge,” said Wilder afterwards.
“Danny was outstanding in the second half and I thought John-Joe was man of the match by a country mile.
“It was tough for Danny to suddenly be in the team and get himself out there but that’s the the reason that we bought him in and the reason we bought Lee Martin, Collo (James Collins) and Luke Prosser in – we’ve strengthened the group in case anything happens.
“Rodders (Rod McDonald) is having to play well because Prosser’s a really good player so they know all that, right the way through the group, and it’s been a team effort and we looked a proper team in the second half.
“Ricky Holmes needs a Brendan Moloney, Lee Martin needs a David Buchanan and the two central midfielders were absolutely outstanding.”
The win keeps Northampton five points clear at the League Two summit and extends their winning run to seven league games – and Wilder believes his side are thriving on the pressure of being the team to be shot at.
He added: “We’ve had pressure on us all season and we continue to thrive on it.
“All week people would have looked around and said ‘that’s a tough place to go and get a result’ after they (Orient) beat Wycombe and Portsmouth and they’re a team that wants to go up automatically.
“We understood the size of the challenge and made sure we dug in and when we got a foothold in the game, I thought we really looked a proper side.
“It looks a comfortable win but we’ve had to work really hard for our result here and we will do going into the last 17 games of the season because nobody is going to give us anything.
“People will question how we’re top of the league but we’re top of the league because of the form over the last 28 games.
“We were a bit disjointed for 45 minutes on Saturday and it wasn’t really a team performance and that’s what I said to them at half-time – we needed to get ourselves together and play more as a team.
“But apart from one opportunity that went across the face of goal, I don’t think Adam (Smith) had a lot to do and as soon as we went 2-0 up we felt pretty comfortable and in control.”