Cobblers boss Chris Wilder accepts that Saturday’s Sixfields showdown with struggling Hartlepool United could be ‘a bit of a grind’ for his team.
Ronnie Moore’s men travel south in the middle of a terrible run of form that has seen them win just one of their past 10 matches, losing six of those.
The have gone from being top of the Sky Bet League Two tree after wins in their opening three matches of the campaign, to 17th after winning just once since August 18.
That single win did come in their most recent away game though, at Yeovil on September 26, but they come to Northampton having lost their past two home games heavily, going down 3-0 against Bristol Rovers and then 4-1 against Luton Town.
Those results may well see the Pools take to the field with a defensive mindset, and Wilder feels the weekend’s match coud be hard going for his in-form team.
“As the league has shown, not just to us but other teams as well, if you have an off day you can get punished,” said Wilder.
“Hartlepool did fantastically well last season (to avoid relegation), and we know how hard it is to get out of the position they were in, and the struggles and pressure that mounts on you daily.
“Ronnie Moore has been a great football manager, I know him quite well, and for him to turn around the fortunes of that club was a fantastic achievement.
“But we live in the present, and we know this is going to be a tough game as Ronnie is a wily old fox who knows his football.
“He will be disappointed with the goals they have conceded, and we possibly have to expect a different type of game compared to the last two home games.
“We played Leyton Orient and Oxford, where they have come for a win, so it might be a little bit more of a battle tactically, whatever formation they stick at, and I should imagine Ronnie will be looking at their goals against record in the little period they’ve not picked up results.
“They started off the season right on the front foot and they will want to get back to that, so this is going to be a tough game for us.
“It might be a bit of a grind, but we have to make sure whatever problems are put in front of us, and whatever problems they pose, we overcome them.
“That is part and parcel of what a tough nine-month season in the Football League gives you.
“Ronnie will definitely get his side up for this, and will pick a team that will make it difficult for us to beat.
“We have to make sure that, especially with the ball, that we are positive and we create like we did last weekend.
“We also need to be bright and alive so that when the opposition have the ball, or break on us, that we can snuff out that threat.”
The Cobblers have no fresh injury concerns for the game, and forward Alfie Potter could return to the squad after missing the past three games with a dead leg.
Missing out are Rod McDonald (knee), Brendan Moloney (knee), Ricky Holmes (back), while Evan Horwood may be named on the bench but he is unlikely to get on the field.
Wilder also revealed that Paul Corry’s knee operation, which he underwent on Tuesday, was a successful one, but reiterated the Irishman will be out for the rest of the season.