Boss Curle readying Cobblers for tough test against free-scoring Crawley Town
Keith Curle is warning his Cobblers players they will face a 'much-improved' and 'dynamic' Crawley Town when the teams square up at the PTS Academy Stadium on Saturday (ko 3pm).
And the Town boss has highlighted the free-scoring Red Devils' 'unpredictable' and 'pacy' attack as a real threat to be wary of.
Crawley possess the league two's second top scorer in Bez Lubala, who has netted seven goals in all competitions already this term, while big target man Ollie Palmer has scored four in his past six games.
The west Sussex side have scored in every game they have played so far this season, which maty come as something of a surprise to anybody who saw the two games against the Cobblers last season.
Town were 1-0 winners at the Broadfield Stadium in December, and the two sides then played out a drab 0-0 draw at the PTS Academy Stadium in February.
But manager Gabriele Cioffi has spiced up his squad over the summer, and Curle is anticipating a lively encounter this weekend.
"Crawley have improved from last season, they have more pace, they are more dynamic and have more of a goal threat going forward," said the Cobblers boss.
"They are a team that has good energy, that like to play on the front foot, and they can cause you problems when they get that flow and fluidity going into the final third.
"They have ability and different threats with the different types of strikers they can put on the pitch.
"They have a vastly improved squad, and I think they have a manager now who has a good understanding of how to win games in league two."
Lubula was signed from Birmingham City on a free transfer in the summer, and has proved to be something of a revelation.
Cioffi had previously worked with the player when he was a coach at the Blues, so knew what he was all about, but not even he could have anticipated him having such an impact.
Curle has certainly been impressed, but not only with Lubula.
"He is a goal threat and is slightly unpredictable," said the Cobblers boss of the 21-year-old Congolese striker.
"He is big, strong, powerful and has an eye for a goal, but they have different options in attack.
"They have got Ollie Palmer who is a big, strong target man who brings people into play and knows the role inside out.
"Ashley Nedsan is a lad they got from Fleetwood who I tried to bring in here, but he is a Crawley lad and I think he has spent too much time away from home so the attraction to go back down there was strong.
"He can turn defence into attack very quickly and he has a great turn of pace.
"He is one of those who sprints, but then has another gear at sprint level where he sort of goes into overdrive.
"So they have goal threats, and they can be quite unpredictable in the wide areas, as they can come inside, they can go outside."
And he added: "They have scored in every game, and to be successful you need to have goals, but you need to get the balance right
"Teams can sometimes get the balance slightly wrong and they can put all of their energies into going forward, and then the back door can be left open.
"You do find that happens sometimes in league two."