It was one of those moments that will be talked about for a long time – as eighteen year old Ivan Toney steadied himself and launched a bicycle kick past the Dagenham and Redbridge defence on Saturday afternoon a hero was born. Toney had already plundered his first ever senior goal after just eight minutes of the crunch game at Victoria Road and by the time the half time whistle went his name was being lauded all across the away terrace as “one of our own” had given us a moment to savour.
The huge stakes and importance of the match gave the brace an even higher regard in the Cobblers history books and the striker is more than likely to see out the season in a starting berth against Oxford United. But what distinguishes Toney from those who have arrived on the scene and disappeared in a cloud of smoke despite being heralded as the next big thing? How can Toney become more of a Michael Jacobs and less of a Courtney Herbert? Here’s some of the things that could make or break the new and sudden starlet…
The thing I picked up most about Toney on Saturday was that there was an air of youthful confidence and cockiness about him. That can sometimes go either way but you get the feeling that nothing about the stage he’s been introduced to is phasing him one bit. When his goals went in there was no sense that he was surprised and celebrations were limited to more of a shrug and Toney saying “that’s just what I do”. If he’s going to move up in the game then this will need to be kept an eye on and having the right men in place to manage it will be crucial. Chris Wilder seems to be doing a good job so far and Toney will need to keep channelling his confidence in the right way if he’s to keep on the right track. At the moment it’s exactly what we need.
One thing lacking a little bit in Toney’s play is any real presence on the pitch in terms of physicality. He gets over this by cleverly winning free kicks and whilst he works alongside someone like John Marquis he won’t need any more than he has right now. It’s when he’s asked to do different jobs like leading the line alone or playing out wide that he might need more physicality about his game.
Only one thing will decide whether Toney is to become a star and that’s game time. I personally didn’t expect him to play in this relegation dog fight we’re in but it’s now seen as a master stroke by Chris Wilder to throw him in the deep end. He needs more and more games under his belt but unfortunately for him that’s not readily available when he most needs it (i.e. now). A good summer and a run in the team may depend on which division we’re playing in but unless he’s forcing his way back into the team come August then he’ll struggle to make himself known. Toney needs to grab any chance he can with both hands.
Strikers live and die by their goals tally a lot of the time and if Toney continues to find the net then no-one will ever be able to ignore him. The brace at Dagenham was as well taken as any you’re likely to see in this division and it’s a sign of someone who knows where the goal is that he almost appeared to expect it. More of the same on Saturday and starting again in the summer and there’ll be plenty of scouting folk arriving at Sixfields.
Who knows whether Ivan Toney will go on to higher levels of the game or whether this was just a huge flash in the pan but after that period of absolute elation at Victoria Road one thing is for sure – he will never be forgotten!