Craig Lindfield admitted he went from a massive low to a huge high in 24 hours over the weekend.
The 23-year-old was taken to one side by boss Paul Cook on Friday and told he wouldn’t be in the starting XI for the Northampton clash.
That hurt the former Liverpool youth striker but by 4.45pm on Saturday he was the hero of the day, having scored Stanley’s fourth late goal in a row – but this time it was to seal a first win in his seven games in charge for Cook.
"I was disappointed to be left out of the starting line-up but the manager picks the team and it’s about having the right attitude and when you come on, doing the best you can," said Lindfield.
"The manager gave me his reasons on Friday and I just had to react the best I could and I was made up I scored
"I must admit though, we have scored a number of late goals and, when I was coming on, I thought I could get the winner. I was just sitting in the dugout waiting for my chance.
"Luckily I was in the right spot to head it in – it’s the first time I have scored a headed goal in the league in my career so it’s been a long time coming!
"We do have a belief though that we will get late goals and they are coming throughout the team and the lads deserved it.
"But I must give credit to Peter Murphy for his perfect cross – although I have no idea what he was doing wide on the right!"
Northampton came with a run of three successive wins and the Reds know plenty about their bustling striker Adebayo Akinfenwa who had fired home 16 goals this season.
But Cook had freshened things up in his side, introducing Wigan centre-back Rob Kiernan to the fray and with former Reds frontman Bobby Grant returning to the Crown Ground in a loan deal from Scunthorpe.
Northampton certainly didn’t look like a team struggling at the wrong end of the table and they carved out a couple of openings through lively wingers Michael Jacobs and Tony Silva who were an early threat.
However the Reds’ defence soon got the measure of them and began to fashion some opportunities of their own. And they made one count when the visitor’s failed to clear their lines three minutes before the interval and Jamie Devitt celebrated extending his loan spell from Hull by running onto a loose ball on the edge of the area and firing home his second in two games.
Aidy Boothroyd has helped turn the Cobblers around and, after the break, they came out battling with ex-Newcastle man Ben Tozer hitting the crossbar with a long-distance strike before the Reds were caught out with a quick break down Northampton’s left.
Blair Adams played in a high cross and sub Brett Williams leapt with Stanley keeper Lee Nicholls and got the final touch to send it over the line – he had only been on the pitch a minute.
That goal, however, only seemed to spur Stanley into life and Toto Nsiala and Luke Joyce both tested Matt Duke while Padraig Amond had a ‘goal’ ruled out for offside.
It looked like it would peter out to the Reds’ fourth consecutive draw until Cook – sat in the TV gantry after being sent to the stands at Southend – made an inspired substitution of his own.
Murphy created space on the right and, with three minutes left, Lindfield got in front of his marker and headed home his fifth of the season in front of the home fans.
It wasn’t game over though as, in injury time, Cobblersdefender Kelvin Langmead had a free header at the far post but it skimmed the top of the crossbar so that Cook could embrace a welcome three points.
"I might stay in the stands instead of the dugout if we keep winning!" said Cook. "But it was a relief – we needed that win just to get the monkey off our back."
And he paid tribute to Lindfield’s attitude.
He said: "Squads and substitutions are huge in football and a lot of lads at clubs just sulk if they get left out.
"Craig Lindfield got left out though and came on and showed an attitude and appetite that is commendable.
"I thought his winner was a great goal. We got a little bit of luck and it does take the pressure off with that first win."