Rochdale boss Hill believes Cobblers will be play-off contenders

Rochdale boss Keith Hill
Rochdale boss Keith Hill

Rochdale boss Keith Hill has been impressed with the Cobblers’ first four months in Sky Bet League One, and believes Rob Page’s men will be promotion play-off contenders come the end of the campaign.

Hill brings his in-form Dale team to Sixfields on Saturday, and he is expecting a difficult afternoon against a team he says has ‘acclimatised very well to league one’.

The Cobblers’ 3-2 victory at Port Vale last weekend ended a four-match losing streak in the league, and saw the team rise to 13th in the table, just two matches shy of the halfway point in the campaign.

Despite the team being five points off the play-off zone, there is plenty of doom and gloom around Sixfields at the moment, with the 1-0 midweek FA Cup defeat to non-League Stourbridge a depressing one.

The Cobblers have lost five of their pastsix games, but Hill, looking at the Cobblers situation from afar, believes manager Page is doing an excellent job.

Hill knows all about how to ensure an unfancied club survives and thrives in league one, and has been impressed with how the Cobblers have fared following their promotion as league two champions in May.

“It is going to be a very tough game, because Northampton have acclimatised very well to league one,” said Hill, who has twice won promotion from league two at Spotland, and is yet to suffer a relegation.

“Their recruitment drive in the summer suggested they were going to be a play-off contender, and I think they still will be.

“League one takes a lot of getting used to, there are a lot of pitfalls, and you have to navigate those pitfalls as quickly as you possibly can.

“What you don’t want is a run of bad results and bad performances leading into negative confidence.

“We are confident at this moment in time going into this game, there is no question about that, but I know the opposition and I know what they will try and do against us, and we have to make sure we counteract that with the way we play.”

Rochdale are on a high as they were 3-2 winners over leaders Scunthorpe United last weekend, and are fifth in league one.

After a disastrous start to the campaign, Hill’s men have recovered brilliantly and have won 14 of their past 20 games in all competitions.