Boss Chris Wilder has labelled in-form Leyton Orient ‘formidable opposition’ as the Cobblers prepare for Saturday’s trip Brisbane Road.
Town go into the match as the form team in Sky Bet League Two, having won 11 of their past 12 games, but Orient are on a pretty decent run of their own.
Under the stewardship of new player-manager Kevin Nolan, the Londoners have won three of their past four games to renew hopes that they can claim a top-three finish this season.
Following last Saturday’s 1-0 win at an out-of-form Portsmouth, they replaced Pompey in the play-off places, and are now only six points behind third-placed Oxford United, although they have played two games more.
Wilder certainly feels the Os, who started the current campaign with five straight league wins, are capable of putting the kind of run together that will put them in contention, and that Nolan was a good choice to spark their season following the sacking of Ian Hendon.
Nolan is still just 33 and was playing in the Premier League for West Ham United as recently as last August, and although he is new to management, Wilder said: “He is not a rookie football person, and he has had an outstanding career. For him to go into management, he will certainly have played under some really good ones, most notably Sam Allardyce.
“Kevin’s teams will match his personality and his winning mentality, and we are really looking forward to the game.
“We had a fantastic game against Leyton Orient earlier in the season (which ended 1-1), and I still believe they shouldn’t have got relegated last season - but they did.
“They have kept a lot of their good players, added to that, and even made changes in the window as well.
“Shaun Brisley (who was on loan at the Cobblers earlier in the season) has gone there, Nicky Hunt has gone there from Mansfield, and a couple of other players too, and they are formidable opposition.
“They have won three of the past four, and they will want to make that four out of five.
“They will be looking at their season and thinking it’s not dead, and I actually think there is plenty of life in this season for everybody.
“We all look at it, and I believe that down to 17th and 18th that everybody has something to play for looking up.
“Then you look at the teams from there, and they are looking to stay in the division.
“The people involved in this league don’t want to lose a gameof tiddly-winks, there are no gimmes, and I would imagine Leyton Orient and Kevin will be thinking if they can get on a good run then they can sneak into the automatic promotion places.”
Nolan has, to date, used himself sparingly as a player for the Os, but he made his first start at Fratton Park last weekend, and Wilder knows he will be an influence against the Cobblers this weekend.
“The manager there is still a very good player,” said the Town manager.
“He put himself in the team on Saturday, and they went and beat Portsmouth.
“By all the reports we have had, and the reports we have seen, they comfortably beat Portsmouth and probably should have won by two or three goals.
“So they will be full of confidence.”
Confidence is obviously something the Cobblers are not shy of either, and Wilder is relishing the challenges ahead.
After the weekend trip to Orient, Town travel to Oxford United next Tuesday, and then host Wycombe Wanderers the following Saturday, and Wilder said: “We have some fantastic games coming up.
“We are playing with a real freedom, and we are playing with a really positive attitude.
“The run that we are on has not been given to us, we have had to work extremely hard for it.
“To get those wins, you have to do a lot of things right, and we are doing a lot of things right at the moment.”