Chris Wilder has warned his side that more teams will employ similar tactics to those used by Cambridge United at the weekend as Cobblers look to finish the job in the final 10 games of the season.
The Northampton manager cut a relaxed figure after Saturday’s draw – despite Cambridge snatching a last-gasp equaliser – as his side moved 14 points clear at the top of League Two.
Aside from that memorable speech at Notts County, Wilder has largely remained stony-faced and fully focused on the job in hand this season, rarely getting caught up in the frenzy of Northampton’s stunning march to the top, even after impressive and crucial wins such as those at Plymouth and Leyton Orient.
But despite watching his side cruelly denied victory by Cambridge, he conveyed a relaxed and assured demeanour of a man who knows his work is almost done.
Though not quite over the line yet, it would take a minor miracle for this season to end in anything other than promotion with the Cobblers almost already guaranteed at least a play-off place with 10 games remaining.
“I haven’t got my head in my hands – how can I?” said Wilder after James Spencer’s 91st minute goal saw Cambridge leave Sixfields with a point.
“It wasn’t to be but I thought the supporters were great again and now we’ve got another 10 games to go to see if we can win some more games and I’m certain that will happen.
“I’ve never really stuck my neck out but Saturday really showed me where we’re at.
“We go to Stevenage and we’re bound to pack that place out and we’ve got some fantastic games coming up.
“Sometimes getting over the final hurdle in the long race is the most difficult one but I saw Saturday as another point added to the total.”
Cambridge came with a clear game plan to defend and frustrate the league leaders which included some questionable time-wasting tactics.
But Wilder had no complaints with United’s antics, believing it comes with the territory of being so far clear at the top.
“I told the boys that that’s what you’ve got to expect and that’s the territory that we’re in,” he added.
“We’re not just one or two points clear – we’re 14 points clear and 17 clear of fourth - and you’ve got to accept that and match it and we did match it.
“The opposition made life difficult and packed the midfield and they are all things that you have to overcome and we’ve overcome every challenge this season.
“This was another challenge – the challenge of being top of the league and the challenge of being this far clear – and it’s another result.
“We could have taken another step closer to League One football with three points but you take it, we’ll talk about what we should have done better and then move on to next Saturday.”