Northampton boss Aidy Boothroyd paid tribute to Jake Robinson after the 1-0 win over MK Dons in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
Robinson won it for the Cobblers with his first goal for the club since arriving at Sixfields at the start of last season - but it was one worth waiting for.
It came in the 11th minute when Robinson beat David Martin with a dipping 30-yard volley which flew past the surprised goalkeeper.
"Jake hit an outstanding goal. He deserved it for the effort he has put into the team," said Boothroyd. "If you don't shoot, you don't score, fans don't always want to see you keep passing it around and not having any shots.
"I thought we deserved to win it, both sides made changes but we played well and created lots of chances. The players who came in all responded well to being left out of the team this season and, to a man, I thought we were fantastic."
Boothroyd added: "It's been a strange few days. We played well against Wolves and lost, beat ourselves at Plymouth but won here against a very good side who you know are going to keep the ball for long periods."