An assist, three points and a place outside the League One relegation zone; Joe Bunney’s Cobblers debut, made against MK Dons on Saturday, could hardly have gone any better had he written the script himself.
Just four days after his transfer from Rochdale was confirmed, Bunney found himself thrust straight into battle as rivals Dons came to town for a crucial clash in the fight for survival at the bottom of Sky Bet League One.
The rangy left-back, converted from a striker only 18 months ago, loves to bomb forward from deep positions and he required only 16 minutes of his first game to show just that when his surging run and pinpoint cross was met by the onrushing John-Joe O’Toole, who poked through the legs of Lee Nicholls.
That set the tone for Northampton’s third straight league win as Chris Long’s eighth goal of the season, scored on the cusp of half-time, restored their advantage after Alex Gilbey had earlier brought Dons back on level terms.
Bunney said afterwards: “It was tough at times, especially in the second-half, and we hung on a bit at the end but I definitely think we deserved to win the game and it’s always good to get an assist on your debut so I’m happy!
“We knew we’d get joy and width in wide areas of the pitch so when I had the chance to get forward, I did it as much as I could and obviously Sam (Foley) found me with a great pass and I managed to pick out John-Joe, so it was a good day at the office.
“We stayed strong. It was a bit of a slog at times in the second-half but we hung in there and got the three points which is all that matters.”
With every upside comes a downside and Bunney’s willingness to get forward on Saturday inevitably left space for Dons to exploit at the other end, but for a team who’ve found chances and goals so hard to come by this season, sometimes that’s a risk worth taking.
“Having come from being a striker I enjoy the attacking side of the game,” added Bunney. “The defensive side is still something I’m learning and I’ve got time to learn that here.
“They’ve been struggling for goals but hopefully I can help with that by getting some more assists like I did on Saturday.
It was tough at times, especially in the second-half, and we hung on a bit at the end but I definitely think we deserved to win the game and it’s always good to get an assist on your debut so I’m happy!
“The dressing room’s a happy place at the minute. I’ve only been here for this win but they’ve won three on the bounce now and what I’ve seen is a very good dressing room and now we need to kick-on and get up the table.”
The 24-year-old will mainly feature at full-back this season but his versatility is likely to come in useful for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink if the Town manager finds himself short on options in other areas of the pitch.
“I can play up front and I can play on the left-wing and at left-back,” continued the former Rochdale man. “The gaffer wanted me to play left-back on Saturday and it’s obviously paid off with an assist so hopefully there’ll be much more of that.
“I’m settling in well. It’s new to me, moving away from home because I’ve been a Manchester lad all my career but the lads here have helped me settle in nicely.
“The fans were brilliant. They were non-stop on Saturday and they stuck behind us near the end when we needed them and they helped us get the three points so credit to them, they were superb.”