Cobblers boss Wilder keeping his feet on the ground

SQUAD EFFORT - Chris Wilder congratulates John-Joe O'Toole on his performance in Saturday's 2-1 win over Hartlepool
SQUAD EFFORT - Chris Wilder congratulates John-Joe O'Toole on his performance in Saturday's 2-1 win over Hartlepool
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Cobblers fans could be excused for getting a little overexcited by their side’s recent excellent form, but there’s little chance of manager Chris Wilder doing likewise.

Northampton supporters have seen their side shoot up the League Two table in the past month and move within touching distance of top spot thanks to a six-game unbeaten run.

RUEING ONE THAT GOT AWAY - Marc Richards can't believe he has missed the target against Hartlepool

RUEING ONE THAT GOT AWAY - Marc Richards can't believe he has missed the target against Hartlepool

In that time, Wilder’s men have showcased their versatility by combining free-flowing, attacking football with some dogged defensive displays to notch wins against several teams riding high in League Two, such as Wycombe Wanderers, Oxford United and Morecambe.

Add in Saturday’s home win over Hartlepool United plus two 1-1 draws with Leyton Orient and AFC Wimbledon and the Cobblers have gradually edged closer to the top of the table.

But Wilder knows as well as anyone that his side’s recent form counts for little if they are unable to sustain it for the remainder of the campaign.

Speaking after Saturday’s victory, a circumspect Wilder said: “Of course it’s good when you win and you’re in and around the top of the table because that’s where we want to be and that’s where the players and the supporters want to be.

“But I’ve been in the game long enough to know that nothing’s won in October.

“We’re in the middle of a good run but we’ve talked about consistency and getting on good runs and now we’ve got another big game this week at Cambridge.

“It’s a good game to be involved in and one we can go and attack in as we did at Wycombe last week.”

Wilder reserved special praise for skipper Marc Richards who took his goal tally to seven for the season with a fourth-minute effort against the Pools.

But the prolific striker was also guilty of missing two gilt-edged chances, and that profligacy may have been punished by a better side on another day.

Richards has himself admitted he made a slow start to the current season and needed a while to get going, but Wilder never had any doubts of his captain’s capabilities.

He added: “I don’t think I can criticise Marc with his goalscoring record he’s got and he scored another one for us on Saturday.

“He leads the team superbly well and he’s been outstanding since we brought him back to the football club.

“Of course he’ll be a little bit disappointed with the missed chances as all centre-forwards would be and he’ll be more disappointed than anybody, but he gets himself into good positions where he scores.

“He’s playing a lot better now than he was three or four weeks ago. He was outstanding last week at Wycombe and he was really good again on Saturday.

“He’s a real battler and gives us an opportunity of getting up the pitch because he never lets any defender get a free header.

“As a forward it’s his job to get in the box and try and score and he’s got one against Hartlepool and he can be happy with his day’s work.”

Having extended their loans for another five weeks last Friday, Darnell Furlong and Shaun Brisley both started against Hartlepool as Northampton maintained their unbeaten league form since the duo signed for the club.

Wilder added: “They’ve played a part in our run but it’s the group that have done outstandingly well.

“They’ve all played a part and it always will be about the group for me because every player in the squad has got a massive part to play and they have to be ready.

“We’re happy that Shaun and Darnell have contributed but so has every player and hopefully they will continue to do so if we keep working hard.”