Aidy Boothroyd believes the Cobblers supporters will have a vital role to play in the run-in if the team is to enjoy npower League Two success this season.
On Saturday, Town entertain a Rochdale side going through a transition period with Keith Hill returning as manager in the wake of John Coleman’s sacking.
They entertain feint hopes of the play-offs (Dale are eight points off the top seven as things stand) but are morely likely to go to Sixfields in pursuit of a single point rather than all three.
Such an expectation level is likely to lead to a defensive approach, similar to the one adopted by the most recent away side to visit Sixfields, Burton Albion.
On that occasion, Northampton had to produce a resolute performance to grind out a 1-0 win and ease the frustrations of their supporters, who Boothroyd feels will need to be patient once again this weekend.
“It’s one of those games where it will be about keeping a cool head,” said Boothroyd.
“It might be that it will take 95 minutes to get the goal that gets us the victory.
“We have to make sure that we don’t get defensive, don’t play with any fear and that the crowd stays with us.
“I think the crowd are going to be very important during the final 16 games of the season, particularly our eight at home because if we can maintain our home form we won’t be too far away.
“Keith (Hill, Rochdale manager) knows the club well and he knows the division very well. (Bobby) Grant is out, and he’s a big player for them and they may change their formation slightly because of what we’ve done at home.
Town play Rochdale on the back of successive away defeats to promotion rivals, with Rotherham’s win coming four days after a loss to Gillingham.
The Cobblers were unfortunate to lose at Priestfield but were certainly the poorer side at the New York Stadium, where they sustained what Boothroyd has called ‘a bloody nose’.
“Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say the opposition is better than you on the day,” he said. “I’ve had managers say that to me this season and we say it to Rotherham, that’s the way it is.
“It hasn’t done us any harm, I don’t think. It’s given us a bloody nose and I think it’s important to get them from time to time.
“It means I’ve got to give what we do away from home some serious thought but the way we’ve been at home is to have more of the same.”