Boss Chris Wilder believes the Cobblers are facing their sternest test of the season on Saturday when they take on a Portsmouth team he rates ‘the best in the division’.
Sky Bet League Two leaders Town entertain fourth-placed Pompey at a packed Sixfields knowing a win will take them nine points clear of the south coast giants with virtually half of the season played.
But Wilder is wary of Paul Cook’s team, who haven’t quite hit their stride yet this season, despite the fact they have only lost twice in the league.
Portsmouth’s problem has been they have drawn too many games, 10 in all, but Wilder is certain they are only going to get stronger as the campaign progresses.
“It is a great effort from us to be in front of them at the moment, but there is a long way to go,” said the Cobblers boss.
“This is a really good game for the supporters, a really good test for us to see how far we have come because we are playing the best team in the division, with the best players.
“It is all set up for a cracking game.
“There are a lot of similarities in the teams, the way we play and the formations we adopt, and I believe anybody who finishes above Portsmouth definitely goes up.
“There is more to come from that football club. They made a lot of changes in the summer, they brought in a lot of players, and I am sure they will go from strength to strength.
“It all sets it up for an absolutely cracking game of football in front of what will hopefully be a full house.”
There aren’t many squads in league two that Wilder looks at with envious eyes, but it certainly seems Portsmouth is one, admitting he ‘loves the way they play’.
“I would say that within people who know their football, Portsmouth are 99.9 per cent of people’s favourites to go up,” said the Town manager.
“I don’t play mind games or spin things and Paul (Cook) knows me well enough, I just look at them and they are a massive club for this division.
“Just look at the quality of players they have. I look at their team and they have some really good players that are dipping their toes into league two for the first time.
“People like Michael Doyle who has played in the championsip, Kyle Bennett, Gareth Evans who has played in league one, Lavery and McNulty, the two boys they have brought in.
“There is Enda Stevens who we had here, Ben Davies, and all those quality players and I love the way they play.”