Boss Chris Wilder has told referee Keith Hill that he will need to produce ‘a big performance’ in the Cobblers’ Sky Bet League Two clash at Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday.
Northampton travel to take on the league leaders at Adams Park, and Wilder wants to make sure Hill is fully aware of Wycombe’s habit of ‘pushing the boundaries’.
Wilder is an admirer of the Chairboys and their manager Gareth Ainsworth, but feels they try and use every trick in the book to gain an advantage and says Hill has a ‘big job’ on his hands.
“Gareth hasn’t got great resources, but he gets the maximum out of his team who work extremely hard,” said Wilder.
“They push the boundaries a bit, and I think everybody knows that, but they are effective and play the game.
“We understand that, and it’s whatever they need to do, and I think the referee has a big job on Saturday.
“He has to be strong, and powerful in his decisions, and we need a big performance from that referee, and hopefully we’ll get that.”
Hill last refereed a Cobblers match at Cheltenham Town last season, and left Wilder an unhappy man after the 3-2 defeat.
The Cobblers felt they were denied a clear penalty when Jason Taylor, now a Cobblers player of course, fouled Ivan Toney in the penalty area, but Hill rejected their appeals.
Wilder confronted the referee at the half-time interval, found himself sent to the stands, and was subsequently handed a two-match touchline ban.
The Town boss will be hoping for no such dramas at Adams Park, but he knows his team are in for a very tough test against a Wycombe team that went top of the league following their 1-0 win at Cambridge United on Tuesday night.
The Chairboys have responded superbly to the heartbreak of losing last season’s league two play-off final to Southend United, bucking a trend that regularly sees teams beaten in the Wembley showpiece struggle the following campaign.
Wycombe were leading 1-0 going into the final seconds of extra-time, but Southend equalised and went on to win on penalties.
It would have been a very bitter pill to swallow, but the Buckinghamshire side have enjoyed a superb start to the season, losing only once, 2-1 at home to Plymouth last month.
“This game is a big challenge for us,” declared Wilder, who saw his team draw 1-1 with then leaders Leyton Orient last Saturday, and follow it up with another 1-1 draw at AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday.
“It’s a local game, we had two tough matches against Wycombe last season and they came out on top, claiming four points out of six.
“There were fine dividing lines between the teams in both games.
“They had a fantastic season, and I think everybody would have looked at Wycombe this year, having lost three or four players, and wonder how they would go, and they have done fantastically well.
“They have done brilliantly to get over the heartache of losing in the play-off final last season.
“They have dusted themselves down, recruited well again, and they are fully deserving of their position at the top of the league.
“We can go there and win, but we are going to have work so hard because Wycome work their socks off for their club and their manager.
“My team does that too, so it is going to be a really tough game.”
Wilder also had words of praise for Ainsworth, adding: “In Gareth Ainsworth they have a manager that will manage at a higher level.
“When all these jobs are coming up and people are talking about managers in our division when positions become available, I would have thought he would be top of the list.”