Dean Austin admits there is simply no downplaying ‘a massive game’ for the Cobblers at Bury on Saturday, but at the same time he wants his players to relax and ‘play the game, not the occasion’.
A win for Town at the only team below them in the table and they are still just about alive and kicking in Sky Bet League One, although they would still have to win their three remaining games of the campaign.
Everybody handles pressure in different ways, and you only have to lose a couple of games and then you don’t know what their players are thinking, and they might get the fear factor in their headsCobblers caretaker boss Dean Austin
But defeat for the Cobblers at Gigg Lane would be more or less the end of the line for this season.
Although they wouldn’t matematically be relegated, it would only be a matter of time as the maximum points haul they could then achieve, 49. would not be enough for survival.
So there is no dressing it up in any other way, this is a must-win game for a Cobblers side without a victory in 10 fixtures, and Austin admits it is time for the players to do their talking out on the pitch.
“It is a massive game and I don’t think there is any way you can play this game down, and that would always be my way,” said the caretaker boss.
“I would try and play it down with my players, but they are not stupid, and we need them to go out and just play the game, and not the occasion.
“We want them to go out and think about the things we have tried to do, and to just play with a bit of freedom.”
And he added; “I have said it to the boys, they are only one game away from changing the momentum.
“If we win on Saturday then it changes the whole thing.
“A couple of results go your way, and all of a sudden, rather than those teams being the hunters they are now being the hunted.
“How are they going to handle things when they have a couple of teams pushing right at their backsides?
“Everybody handles pressure in different ways, and you only have to lose a couple of games and then you don’t know what their players are thinking, and they might get the fear factor in their heads.
“We are only one game away from that, but this is not the time for talking now, it is the time for doing.”
If the Cobblers are to give themselves a lifeline, Austin feels it is crucial they score the first goal at Gigg Lane, as he believes that would give the players some much-needed confidence.
“There are a couple of things you can’t give players,” said the former Tottenham Hotspur defender. “You can’t give players desire, and you can’t give them confidence, and that’s the situation we are in.
“We are trying everything we can to instil as much confidence into the players as we can, and we see it in training.
“But going out on the field, when you are playing for the points, is something totally different.
“I just want to get to the stage where we can get the first goal, and if we can get the first goal it will give belief.
“I believe in this group, they need to believe in themselves, and if we can get a little bit of a rub of the green and get our noses in front, you might begin to see a different team.”