Rob Page was delighted to notch his first victory as Northampton Town manager as he hailed the character and fitness of his side after they sent Championship outfit Barnsley crashing out of the EFL Cup on Tuesday.
After falling behind, the Cobblers needed a stroke of good fortune to get back level when Tykes goalkeeper Adam Davies dropped the ball into his own net to gift the visitors an equaliser.
But they were a transformed side once that went in and gave a much better account of themselves in a gruelling but gripping cup tie.
Northampton had to withstand some heavy pressure at times but they defended manfully and held on for extra-time before snatching victory through John-Joe O’Toole’s late header.
“It’s a great feeling to get the first win and to see the character which we showed at the end,” said Page afterwards.
“They created chances, of course they did, and we did have to ride our luck but credit to the players because to come from a goal behind shows a lot of character.
“I knew I was coming into a club that had great character and fantastic support.
“Sometimes you have to ride your luck but you’ve got to take the opportunities when they come and thankfully John-Joe got on the end of a great delivery from Matty Taylor which has won us the game.”
Still in the early days of his time as manager, Page knows there’s plenty more to work on but he believes Tuesday’s performance showed signs of the type of team he’s trying to build at the club.
“We saw glimpses,” he added. “We went with three middle of the park and that worked for us. At times they went 4-4-2 so we had to utilise that third man in the middle.
“When you’ve got someone like Matty Taylor with his quality and knowledge of the game and how to manage the game, it certainly helps, as does the energy and range of passing of Beautyman and that’s fantastic as well.
“I think you’re seeing glimpses of it now. It’s a work in progress but we’re getting there.
“We had to defend for our lives and Gab and Zander were outstanding. They threw themselves in front of shows and you create your own fortune and I thought we deserved the win in the end.”
Page was also pleased with the fitness levels of his players, and credited that with new performance coach John Harbin, adding: “Credit to John for that because that’s why I brought him in. He knows how far to push them every day.
“Sometimes he has to pull the reins in on us and we’ve had to do that at times. The fitness was an issue at the end but for players like Matty Taylor to play for that length of time is credit to them.”