Bristling with an overwhelming sense of relief, it might take a while for the smile to be wiped off Sam Hoskins’ face after he bagged his first goal of the season on Saturday, and a crucial one at that.
Whilst there was an element of frustration at not walking off the pitch with two goals to his name having missed a golden late chance to double his and the team’s tally, Hoskins was just glad to finally put his injury troubles behind him once and for all with the winning strike in Saturday’s game against Blackpool.
Making only his third start and seventh appearance in all since suffering a horrible knee injury way back in January, the 24-year-old displayed sharp thinking and nimble footwork to redirect Matt Grimes’ cross-shot into the bottom corner of Ryan Allsop’s net.
That excellent improvised finish, plus a solid defensive shift from his team, ultimately proved decisive as Northampton crucially overcame a limited Blackpool side in a tight game of few chances, bringing them to within a point of safety in Sky Bet League One.
“The ball came in from Grimesy and I tried to help it on its way and luckily it was far enough in the corner and had enough pace on it,” said Hoskins afterwards.
“I was disappointed that I didn’t get another and put the game to bed and put us at ease, but at the end of the day it’s a goal for me and three points.”
Hoskins has been carefully managed by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink since his return but Saturday’s start was his second in succession and now back fully fit, and with his first goal of the season under his belt, he has eyes on nailing down a regular place in the team.
He added: “At the time I could sense it was something bad purely because of the pain I was and I had a scan the next day and it was confirmed.
“It was a frustrating time but I’m just glad to be back playing games and scoring goals.
“The main thing is to get your first goal and then push on, and for me, I want to stay in the team and scoring goals will help that.
We try and press teams and force them into mistakes and I think we limited Blackpool’s chances, they didn’t have any clear-cut chances at all.
“I think 10 is a good benchmark and if I hit that then I’ll set another target.”
The Cobblers are still far from out of the woods this season but seven points from a possible nine has lifted spirits around Sixfields and resurrected hope of a permanent return to form.
“We’ve trained hard and we work really well,” added Hoskins. “We’ve got ability in the squad and I think that showed on Saturday and it was a much-needed win.
“We go into every game the same way. We do a lot on team shape in the week building up to the games and obviously Saturday showed that it’s helping us.
“We play the same way home or away. We try and press teams and force them into mistakes and I think we limited Blackpool’s chances, they didn’t have any clear-cut chances at all.”