Cobblers boss Chris Wilder is expecting his team to rise to the latest challenge of a ‘special season’ when they travel to play-off chasing Carlisle United on Saturday.
Town travel north 11 points clear at the top of the table, 19 points clear of Accrington Stanley in fourth, and big favourites to claim the Sky Bet League Two title.
The team have suffered the smallest of blips in the past week as they have drawn games against Hartlepool United and AFC Wimbledon, but the fact remains the Cobblers are unbeaten in 12 games, a record stretching back to December 19.
They have also lost just one of their past 21 league games, winning 17 of those, and Wilder is keen to focus on the stack of positives surrounding the Cobblers.
“This is a special season for us, and one that all supporters and everybody at the club should be embracing,” said Wilder.
“Every challenge is a difficult one, but an exciting one as well.
“As I said last week, I never think about my team not giving anything less than 100 per cent commitment, and 100 per cent drive to go and win a football match.
“We will need that again at Carlisle on Saturday, but I can sleep tight knowing the players will do that, and that makes me smile inside.”
Carlisle entertain the Cobblers in decent form, having lost just one of their past five matches.
On Tuesday night they drew 2-2 with Leyton Orient, and they are very handily placed in 11th place in league two, just three points off the play-off places with at least one game in hand on their rivals.
It has been a tricky season for Keith Curle’s men thanks to the floods that wreaked havoc in Cumbria before Christmas, but they have stayed in the promotion hunt and Wilder is an admirer.
“I expect Carlisle to go well as they have a good manager, and they have a good group of players,” said Wilder.
“They are in a good position, ready to strike for the play-offs, while we are in an absolutely fantastic position.
“We have always had good games against Carlisle, and it is a decent place go and play your football, it’s a good ground.”
The Cobblers were 3-2 winners over Carlisle on the previous meeting at Sixfields back in October, a match in which Wilder says the Cumbrians showed their quality.
“It was a tight game when we played them at Sixfields, they were on a good run at the time, and they were a dangerous outfit,” said the Cobblers boss.
“It was a real end-to-end game and we managed to score in a good period.
“I thought we were then comfortable in the second half up until the last five minutes when they scored and put us on the back foot.
“But it will be a tight game again on Saturday and I expect nothing less, as it is two decent sides in good nick who have it all to play for.”