Cobblers boss Chris Wilder is challenging his team to ‘stick a decent, long run together’ as he targets a swift rise up the Sky Bet League Two table.
The Town manager admits that his team’s form has been ‘streaky’ so far this season, with a fantastic first week that saw two wins in two league games, followed by a run of four matches without a win.
That poor run was ended with last Saturday’s hard-fought 1-0 win over previously unbeaten Oxford United, and Wilder is hoping the confidence gleaned from that result can inspire his team to go on an unbeaten run.
The Cobblers travel to high-flying Morecambe on Saturday (ko 3pm), and Wilder is keen for his team to make a real statement to the rest of league two, and reclaim some of the ground lost with their poor run that saw them claim just one point from a possible 12.
Town aren’t in bad shape in the league as they sit in 11th place on 10 points from seven games, but that picture would look a lot brighter if they can win at the Globe Arena, as three points would take them level with the fifth-placed Shrimps.
“Everybody takes notice of the league table, and we would like to be top but we’re not for various reasons,” said Wilder. “It is a long season and we have to work hard.
“We can’t get carried away with what happened last Saturday, even though it was a very good day, because we are three or four points light of where we want to be at this stage.
“It is up to us now to claw that back, and we go to Morecambe on Saturday full of heart.
“We have some big games coming up, but these are the games where, if you want to do something in this league, you need to go and pick up something, and start runs as well.
“Our form has been a bit streaky so far this season.
“We had two wins to start with, then a couple of poor results, so I would like nothing more than to stick a decent, long run together.
“If you do that, then you are going to climb the table and you are going to show the consistency that you need to get towards the top of the league.”
The Cobblers will be hampered on their trip to north west with the loss of five key players, as the injured quartet of Ricky Holmes, Zander Diamond, Brendan Moloney and Evan Horwood are joined on the sidelines by the suspended Jason Taylor.
The Cobblers do at least have loan duo Shaun Brisley and Darnell Furlong already in to boost their ranks, and Wilder was delighted with the pair’s impact last weekend.
Peterborough loanee Brisley came in for Rod McDonald at centre-back and added experience and guile, while Queens Park Rangers teenager Furlong replaced fellow youngster Josh Lelan at right-back and became an instant hit with the Sixfields faithful following his eye-catching display, both in defence and in attack.
The pair were only signed a little over 24 hours before the Oxford clash, but Wilder praised their ability to settle in quickly, and how they went about their jobs.
“Most of the work the prevous week was making us little bit more rigid and compact,” said the Town boss.
“We needed to close the gaps and be harder to play against, as I felt in a couple of games we have lost, especially at home, we were a little bit open, and made it too easy for the opposition to counter-attack on us.
“So we had to work on certain things, which we did, and then we brought the boys in and credit to them as they are intelligent boys and have both played at a decent level. Darnell is enthusiastic and wants to do well, and Shaun gave us that commanding centre-half performance, and a confident one.
“They have come into the team, and we look better for them being in those positions.”
Wilder is particularly impressed with Furlong’s decision to drop to league two on loan from the Championship. He played three times in the Premier League for the Hoops last season, and Wilder said: “I have a lot time for boys like Darnell who want to come out and learn their trade.
“He could quite easily have sat in the under-21s at QPR and say ‘I don’t really want to go there’, but he wants to get his hands dirty.
“He wants to play in real-life football, where there is three points at stake on a Saturday afternoon.
“And whatever happens, when he leaves here and goes back to QPR he can only have benefitted from his experience at this club.”