Dean Austin has challenged his Cobblers players to prove they have the required desire to claim a much-needed victory at Port Vale on Saturday.
Austin is in no doubt his team possesses the quality on the ball to hurt any opposition in league two, but after last week’s dismal effort in the home defeat to Cheltenham Town, he wants to see his team do the nitty gritty better.
The question I’ll be asking our boys is, ‘yes I know we can play, but are we going to stand up and fight?’ Are we going to show that desire to want to win headers? To want to win tackles? To stop crosses?Cobblers boss Dean Austin
And he admits he will be asking his players is they are going to ‘stand up and fight’ at Vale Park.
“I know we will have a great following for the game, as we always do, and I want them to be going home happy like they were two weeks ago at Colchester,” said Austin, referring to the 2-1 win in Essex, still the team’s only win this season.
“Port Vale are going to be like every other team in league two, and they are going to scrap for their lives, and they are going to compete for every ball.
“They are going to try to get it into their front man, Tom Pope, who is a real threat, and they are going to try to beat us up a bit, that is what I expect.
“The question I’ll be asking our boys is, ‘yes I know we can play, but are we going to stand up and fight?’.
“Are we going to show that desire to want to win headers? To want to win tackles? To stop crosses?
“Are we going to get on the first ball, to get on the second ball, and to compete.
“If we do that, and we go toe-to-toe and compete, then we have the players who can get the ball down and play.
“All the stats that I have seen tell us that we dominate the ball in near on every game that we play, we create more chances than other teams and this, that and the other.
“But when you have the ball and dominate the ball, you have to be concentrated and focused for when teams come back at you, and for me at the moment I feel our concentration, focus and doggedness needs to be better.”
Austin has praised his team for some of the football they have played so far this season, and much of what they have done has pleased him.
But he was not happy with the way Cheltenham were allowed to cruise to three points last weekend, and he added: “We have got to find a resilience.
“We are looking into many things at the minute, because that is me and I analyse things.
“I know our fans are hurting, but I swear to them I felt sick to the pit of my stomach for two days after the weekend.
“My house has not been a nice house to be in, I have gone through many things over and over in my head.
“I don’t think we are a million miles away, but we need an edge, and we need to bring an edge to our game in both boxes.
“That is the key thing for me.”