Knill: Cobblers ready for tough FA Cup test against Northwich

Cobblers assistant manager Alan Knill
Cobblers assistant manager Alan Knill

Flying high in the table having lost just one league game since September, scoring plenty of goals with a brand of exciting football, a team brimming with confidence.

I could of course be describing the fortunes of Northampton Town, but I’m not.

Northwich manager Jim Gannon

Northwich manager Jim Gannon

I’m talking about this weekend’s visitors to Sixfields in the FA Cup second round, Northwich Victoria.

Indeed, the record of Jim Gannon’s Evo-Stik Nothern League outfit this season is even more impressive than that of the Cobblers.

Prior to Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat at Trafford in the Integro Doodson Sport Cup when key players were rested, Northwich had a playing record this season of P30 W25 D3 L2 - which is pretty impressive at any level.

Their league form has been even better, with Vics winning 16 of their 17 fixtures, scoring 46 goals and conceding just nine in the process.

Yes, they are playing at tier eight in the football pyramid - on a par with Cobblers’ county rivals AFC Rushden & Diamonds and Daventry Town - but that is a run that is going to instil any set of players with belief.

And Northwich will be travelling to Sixfields believing they can claim their biggest scalp of the season to date.

They won a replay at Boreham Wood, of the National League, in the first round, a team from three levels above them, and will definitely fancy their chances of causing a league two team a few problems.

The Cobblers are certainly not going to take their visitors lightly this weekend. Homework has been done, with manager Chris Wilder watching them see off Boreham Wood, and his assistant Alan Knill taking in last midweek’s 5-1 win over Mossley.

The Cobblers also sent a scout to report on Saturday’s 2-0 win at Prescot Cables, and Knill is anticipating a difficult afternoon at Sixfields.

“With Northwich, even though Chris has watched them and I have watched them, they are still a kind of an unknown to us,” said Knill.

“On Saturday, it is all about us. If we play to our maximum we think we will win. If we don’t, then we give them a really good chance, and that is the challenge.

“Everybody around us is expecting us to win, so we have to go on and make sure we do. It is full focus on ourselves, and on our performance, and if we can get that right then the result will come.

“Northwich have some players we know, and we know the manager pretty well, so just from that we know they are going to be an organised team.

“We are treating it like any other game, and we know if we underestimate them we can get beaten.

“They played Boreham Wood in the previous round, and they won that one, so we have to be so focused on what we want to do.

“I was impressed when I went to watch them, and Chris was impressed when he saw them at Boreham Wood, and we realise it is going to be a hard game.

“It is for us to play at our best, and then hopefully it will be a tough game for Northwich, but we are not underestimating who we are playing, that is for sure.”

And he added: “It is going to be a difficult game, Northwich have some players that can cause us problems, and we will have to be at our best.

“They will come here with no expectation and a freedom that they can go and perform how they want to.

“It is different in their league, because they are top of the league where the expectation is with them, but at Sixfields they will be expected to win so they can play with freedom.”

Another reason Knill is anticipating a testing afternoon is the fact that Northwich are managed by former Stockport County, Port Vale and Peterborough boss Jim Gannon.

“I also have to say, Northwich have a manager who I know is a pretty good manager,” said Knill. “He is someone who myself and Chris (Wilder) think should be managing in the league.

“For some reason he isn’t, and Northwich will be well organised and will have a gameplan, so it will be a tough game for us.”