Cobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has challenged his side to continue their recent improvement under his guidance this weekend when they face another formidable test as Bradford City visit Sixfields.
The Bantams, play-off final losers back in May, are one of a group of sides who were hotly-tipped to challenge for promotion this season and they’ve so far lived up to the billing, losing just one of their first eight games to sit fourth in Sky Bet League One.
Stuart McCall’s men will travel to Sixfields confident of coming away with the spoils, just as they did last term when they turned a half-time deficit into a 2-1 win, but the Cobblers too have reason to be optimistic.
In recent times, under the leadership of new boss Hasselbaink, they have significantly improved on the pitch which has led to an upturn in results, taking seven points from their last four games.
Hasselbaink’s unbeaten start was ended by Wigan Athletic on Tuesday but there were further signs of promise in the defeat, and now he wants them to continue that in Saturday’s clash at Sixfields.
“It is what it is,” he said on facing another high-flying outfit this weekend. “They come thick and fast and those are the games you want to play and you want to do well in.
“It doesn’t matter who is in front of you; you have to put in your best on the day.”
Reflecting further on the loss to Wigan, Hasselbaink added: “It’s a learning process that we have to go through.
“Wigan are going to be one of the teams who will challenge (for promotion) so to go there and put in that display is not bad.
“Look, I don’t like losing don’t get me wrong, but there is a way of losing and on Tuesday I’m content with the way we lost.
“It’s always going to be a work-in-progress, the boys have done an amazing job (on Tuesday) and they didn’t get what they wanted but we played a really good side who understand football.
“We played a certain way and they turned us a lot and that’s how they got the space and we understood really well.
“But I think we dealt with that quite well, it’s just a pity that that at one moment we went there.
“It’s small margins but you have to make sure those small margins go your way and that is about being smart and having a bit more experience.”
Ash Taylor and Matt Grimes both looked to have picked up injuries towards the end of Tuesday’s game but Hasselbaink doesn’t expect either player to miss out on Saturday.
“Grimes has got a knock in his hip but hopefully he’ll be OK and Ash got a kick on his foot but he’s a strong man!
“I think they will be there on Saturday.”