Cobblers boss Chris Wilder is hoping Stevenage will be in a positive frame of mind when the two teams square up at Broadhall Way on Saturday (ko 3pm).
Sitting pretty at the top of the Sky bet League Two table, the Cobblers have endured a couple of frustrating results on home soil in recent weeks, drawing 1-1 with both AFC Wimbledon and Cambridge United.
The match against Wimbledon saw the visitors really take the game to Cobblers in a cracking encounter, but it was a different story last weekend as Cambridge set their stall out for a point, and thanks to James Spencer’s last-minute equaliser, they got it.
Wilder is hoping his team is allowed a little more space to breathe this weekend, with Stevenage in desperate need for a win to keep themselves clear of the league two relegation zone.
The Cobblers have been impressive on the road all season, and haven’t lost away from Sixfields since October 17, dropping just four points out of a possible 33 in that time.
Town were 4-1 winners last time out at Carlisle United, and Wilder is hoping that impressive run continues.
“Our away form has been magnificent,” said Wilder. “Sometimes you look at it, and when teams come like Cambridge did on Saturday and are resolute and sit deep, and are compact and not very adventurous, it is up to us to break them down.
“I should imagine the flip side of it is, when you are at home, your supporters want you to go for it and attack, and Stevenage will have that on them.
“They won’t play like an away side, they will want to have a go at the game because that is the old Stevenage, fearless, adventurous, not bothered about who they play and go and get a result.
“You have to accept that, and take that challenge head on.”
Wilder’s thoughs were echoed by midfielder Joel Byrom, who said: “Teams have to come out and play when they are in front of their home fans, and not as much when they come to our place.
“I think we have a lot of players who are very good on the counter-attack, so when we break things up we have a solid base and we have got wide players and the likes of John-Joe in midfield who likes to get into the box.
“We then have the front two or three, whatever we play, and they have a lot of pace and energy to break on teams quickly.”
Wilder is expecting a testing afternoon, especially as Stevenage will be playing for their Football League future, having dropped to third bottom in the table after a run of four straight defeats, although there is still a seven-point cushion between them and second bottom York City.
“Stevenage is always a tough place to go, and the have just been dragged in at the bottom a little bit,” said the Cobblers boss.
“I should imagine teams have to be careful, because I think Bristol Rovers were in the same position two years ago where everyody thought they were clear and safe, then all of a sudden they went on a bad run.
“I am expecting a tough old physical battle, and hopefully we can again show all the qualities we have done on the road.”