Hasselbaink backs Luckassen to build on impressive start to his Cobblers career

SUPER SUB: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's decision to bring on Kevin Luckassen immediately paid dividends. Picture by Sharon Lucey
SUPER SUB: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's decision to bring on Kevin Luckassen immediately paid dividends. Picture by Sharon Lucey

It was not just Kevin Luckassen’s goal that pleased his manager after Saturday’s 1-1 draw away at Bristol Rovers with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink full of praise for the striker’s overall display.

Luckassen’s headed equaliser, scored with his first touch, came within two minutes of his arrival off the bench but there was much more to his performance in the following 30 minutes.

I was looking for a striker and his agent gave me a call so we had a look at him in training and we felt he could add something that we didn’t have and he showed that on Saturday.

With Chris Long sacrificed in favour of Shay Facey after Matt Crooks’ red card, Luckassen led the line all by himself in the closing stages and he did an admirable job, utilising his strength and size to hold up the ball and help relieve the pressure that was building on Town’s back four.

Rovers, with an extra man, dominated the final 10 minutes in search of a winner but they struggled to create clear-cut chances and Northampton held on for a point.

“He’s a strong boy and he holds the ball up really well,” said Hasselbaink. “He’s good at heading the ball as well and he also has reasonable pace.

“We need to try to get him fitter and fitter. The goal will help him with his confidence and hopefully now he can push on and kick-on.”

Luckassen’s arrival came somewhat out of the blue last Thursday afternoon, and explaining how and why his signing came about, Hasselbaink continued: “He’s played in Scotland, in Austria and was brought up at my old club AZ Alkmaar. He’s been training with us for the last two weeks and I know him from Holland.

“I was looking for a striker and his agent gave me a call so we had a look at him in training and we felt he could add something that we didn’t have and he showed that on Saturday.

“Forget about the goal, which was very important and that’s how strikers are judged, he did really well.”

The Cobblers remain outside the bottom four in Sky Bet League One but they have two difficult home games coming up over the next eight days, with in-form Rotherham United and second-placed Shrewsbury Town both visiting Sixfields.

“The home form is important and we want to get back on track,” added Hasselbaink. “We had a really good game against Oxford and we want to prolong that but with a better result.

“We’ve been doing well away from home and picking up points but now it’s about pushing ourselves and trying to get three points at home.”