Ardley happy to be the FA Cup underdog as Notts County target an upset against the Cobblers

Notts County boss Neal Ardley
Notts County boss Neal Ardley

Boss Neal Ardley admits it is 'nice to be underdogs for a change' as Notts County prepare for their FA Cup second round trip to the Cobblers on Sunday (ko 2pm).

The Magpies have spent the season so far being the team everybody wants to beat in the National League, following their relegation from Sky Bet League Two in May.

They are the big fish in that particular pond, and it has been part of the reason the Magpies have struggled to hit their best form this campaign, although it has been far from a disaster.

Ardley's men are currently ninth in the National League, six points off the play-offs and nine points adrift of the one automatic promotion spot, but they have struggled in recent weeks, picking up just one point from their past three games.

That has led to the pressure growing on Ardley and his players, and the Magpies boss admits this weekend's FA Cup date at the PTS Academy Stadium is a welcome distraction.

“Northampton are overwhelming favourites and that’ll make it a lot harder but it’s nice to be underdogs for a change,” said the former AFC Wimbledon boss.

“We’re away from home against the form team of league two and they have all the qualities to cause us no end of problems.

“They’re a powerful side with big, strong defenders, midfielders and forwards, and they’ll really go at us.

“They’re very attack-minded and have talented players that can cause problems with the ball at their feet, as well as being a threat with crosses into our box.

“Put it all together and we’re going to have to be on our ‘A’ game and, if we can get everything right and upset Northampton, the potential of a big tie is there.”

Having said all of that, Ardley also made it clear that he believes his team is capable of causing an upset and seeing off the Cobblers on Sunday, and that is their ultimate aim.

County will certainly have plenty of backing from the stands as more than 1,000 travelling fans will be in attendance, and Ardley said: “It’ll be an achievement to win the game rather than an expectation, but we’re still putting pressure on ourselves because there’s a place in the third round at stake.

“There’s nothing worse than losing and seeing the opposition come out of the hat with a brilliant draw.

“Northampton are overwhelming favourites and we want to challenge ourselves, so I hope we do ourselves justice and perform to a high standard to cause them problems.

“It’ll be a marker of whether we can cope with a side from their level and hopefully the magic of the FA Cup works in our favour.”