Chris Wilder wants his Cobblers players to relish the pressure of being in the hunt for a play-off place as they continue to keep their top-seven dreams alive.
Town returned to winning ways with a vital 2-1 victory over a totally toothless Luton at Sixfields on Saturday and are now four points outside the play-off places in Sky Bet League Two.
Although there are now only seven games left, the win has given the squad renewed confidence they can provide some excitement for their supporters in the final stages of the campaign after back-to-back losses had threatened to derail their strong finish.
But Wilder is confident his team can thrive on the relative pressure they have put on themselves to provide a grandstand finish to the current campaign.
“It wouldn’t have been the end of the world if we’d lost but it would have been very difficult to get into the play-offs,” he said.
“We’ve come a long way in the last 12 months. A year ago we were battling to stay in the Football League and now we’ve still got a chance to get into the play-offs.
We put massive expectations on ourselves to win games of football and I think the players play under the pressure that we put them underCobblers boss Chris Wilder
“We put massive expectations on ourselves to win games of football and I think the players play under the pressure that we put them under.
“We have to embrace that pressure and enjoy being part of big games of football. You don’t want to be playing those mid-table games when there’s nothing on it.
“So we’ll keep giving it everything and we’re keeping our season alive by winning these important games.”
Wilder was understandably delighted to have beaten Luton on Saturday and especially pleased to see James Gray score his first goal for the club.
“We had to take a punt on him because we haven’t got a bottomless pit of cash to go and get players from out of the Championship or wherever,” he said.
“We’re desperately missing Marc Richards and everyone knows that but we feel he (Gray) can give us something between now and the end of the season.
“He’s enthusiastic and wants to work really hard for us.”