Curle not thinking of play-offs (yet), but how likely is a top-seven finish for the Cobblers?
It will take a few more wins before Cobblers boss Keith Curle starts believing his side are capable of mounting a late, improbable challenge for the League Two play-offs this season.
Having spent much of the season nervously peering over their shoulders at relegation, a five-match unbeaten run, including three away wins in that time, has Cobblers fans suddenly casting their eyes in the opposite direction and looking up the League Two standings.
But a play-off finish still remains highly unlikely this season despite Town moving to within nine points of the top seven with Saturday’s excellent 2-0 victory over mid-table rivals Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road.
Over the past five campaigns, an average of 71.2 points has been needed to finish in the League Two play-offs, with the lowest total during that time coming in 2010/11 when Torquay United sneaked into the top seven with 68 points.
If that was the case this time around, the Cobblers would need 23 points – seven wins and two draws – from their final 11 fixtures, a difficult task even with their favourable run-in which includes all of the bottom four teams.
After hosting fifth-placed Exeter City on Saturday, Town then take on Newport County (12th), Grimsby (14th), Cheltenham (17th), Port Vale (22nd) and Notts County (24th). They are currently nine points adrift of Forest Green Rovers, who occupy the final play-off spot.
“We’ll take results as they come,” said Curle after Saturday’s win at Crewe. “We’re aware of the games remaining but we’re still putting down foundations and implementing the culture that we need to have as a football club.
“Because, in my opinion, it wasn’t in place before. Now, we’re enjoying working in that environment and we’re always looking to gain points.
“I said that to the players before Saturday’s game – there’s been a focus about the group in the week and it was my belief that there were three points available to us if, individually and collectively, we do our jobs.
“That was my last message to the players. We had good belief and good understanding and I think we went out and took the points and earned the points.”