Bradford striker Nahki Wells has been a regular thorn in the side of the Cobblers, but manager Aidy Boothroyd believes his players will need to pay equally close attention to Wells’ strike partner James Hanson.
Wells scored a hat-trick at Sixfields last season, notched in the league game there this year but failed to get on the scoresheet in a 20-minute substitute cameo in the FA Cup first-round clash between the sides 10 days ago.
That contest ended as a draw, which means the duo will do battle at Valley Parade on Tuesday night (7.45pm kick-off) for the right to play host to Brentford in round two.
Wells will lead the line for that game, and with 12 goals to his name so far this season, the focus will be on him to fire Bradford to the next stage.
But Hanson, an imposing figure at six-foot-four and with the kind of hunger developed through a handful of seasons in non-league football, has been cited by Boothroyd as equally dangerous.
“He (Hanson) is a massive presence for them and I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the best part of their team is the front,” said the Northampton manager.
“Both of their strikers are down to good recruitment. In James’ case that was down to a good local knowledge, to pick him up from Guiseley, which is near where I’m from originally.
“Sometimes the non-league mentality of knowing what real life is like can give you a spur in professional football because you treasure every day and you know how privileged you are to do it as a job.
“They are a real handful and we know all about them from the games we have played against them recently.”
The winners of Tuesday night’s tie will pocket £18,000 in prize money plus half of the gate receipts for another game in the competition; as that game will be on home soil, whoever prevails at Bradford will strongly fancy their chances of reaching the third round.
Such a scenario has the potential to generate an enormous amount of income and therefore provides a huge incentive to Boothroyd and his opposite number Phil Parkinson.
“It’s a big priority for me personally because I know what a good cup run can do, but more so at this club than any other club I have managed at because I want to ask the chairman for more players, more money and things that I think we need to improve in the infrastructure,” said Boothroyd.
“As the person that puts the money in, he wants to see the crowds improve, he wants to see the quality and the team improve, and he wants to see value for money and a return on his investment.
“When we can get a decent cup run and bring some more money into the club then that puts me in a stronger position when I’m trying to get more money out of him.
“I have to say though, he is the easiest person I’ve ever had to deal with when you’re winning, and the other side is that when I first came here we had absolutely nothing and he was willing to put his hand in his pocket then.”