Without wishing to blow his own trumpet, young Shay Facey had a premonition that his Cobblers debut, made against Southend United on Saturday, would end with the man of the match award. Ninety minutes later, after a steady, composed performance at right-back, it turned out he was right.
Most Northampton fans would not have known a great deal about the inexperienced full-back ahead of his transfer on Friday, when he completed his switch from Manchester City and signed an 18-month deal at Sixfields, but all it took was one impressive performance for them to learn their side have signed a player with talent and potential.
Despite not playing a competitive senior game for almost a year, his transition from Man City’s U23s to League One was seamless as he replaced Brendan Moloney and produced a performance that had all the hallmarks of an experienced pro, not a youngster still finding his way.
Strong in the tackle and calm in possession, the only thing missing from his game were penetrating runs forward but that will surely come as he finds his feet and builds up his fitness levels. For now, with three points in the bag alongside his bottle of champagne, he can be pleased with a fine start to his Cobblers career.
He said: “It can’t get any better, can it? To be fair, I had a bit of an idea that I might get man of the match. That seems like I’m blowing my own trumpet but I had a feeling because I haven’t played for so long.
“I just wanted to come out and show everyone what I’m capable of as soon as possible and fortunately we’ve got the three points and I had an all right game, so I’m happy to come away with the champagne!
“I found out just before the game that I’d be starting. I had an idea and obviously I had my fingers crossed that I’d be playing but you don’t want to think you are in case you’re not.
“So when my name came up I was over the moon and I was buzzing to get out there.”
Facey has already spent over a month training with Northampton and it showed against Southend when the back four defended as a unit to keep the visitors relatively quiet, bar one lapse.
“It’s just about getting my positioning right and seeing how the team play,” he added. “They were trying to play the long ball and it was a matter of being in the right position and communicating with Regan (Poole), who played fantastic as well.
He’s like lightning! He can do that and we’ve already seen it in training. I’ve also played against him as a young boy when he was at Benfica so I know what he’s all about.Shay Facey on fellow new signing Hildeberto Pereira
“I think Ash (Taylor) is our leader at the back. He’s very commanding and it’s all of our responsibility to speak and communicate with each other. I think we did a good job of that and it showed.
“Apart from that ridiculous decision, we would have had a clean sheet for sure.”
As he settles into his new club, the 23-year-old promises fans they can soon expect to see more marauding runs forward, adding: “There were little glimpses but it was more about saving my legs and doing the hard stuff and defending. The more fluent we get, the more I’ll get up the wing.”
Facey was not the only new face to catch the eye on Saturday. Also impressing was fellow debutant Hildeberto Pereira who shone during an action-packed second-half cameo.
The Portuguese winger has signed on loan until the end of the season, with Facey adding: “He’s like lightning! He can do that and we’ve already seen it in training. I’ve also played against him as a young boy when he was at Benfica so I know what he’s all about.
“The fans have seen that as well now and I think he can do a lot more so it’s good to have him here.”
As for the game itself, John-Joe O’Toole saw his fortunate opener cancelled out by Jason Demetriou’s penalty but Matt Grimes netted his own spot-kick and that was the cue for Northampton to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
Chances came and went, Peirera shooting wide and hitting the bar, but Alex Revell’s pinpoint finish in the final minute ensured Facey could celebrate a winning debut.
“I think we deserved it,” he added. “It was a bit of the battle in the first-half but were anxious to put on a good performance and get the three points because we knew we could do that at home.
“Once we settled down and the nerves went, I thought we were fantastic and created chances for fun - it could have been four or five so it was really good to be involved in the second-half.
“We’ll take our momentum from this game into the next one. We have to stay confident and not fear anyone and we’ll just focus on ourselves.”