Crawley Town boss Mark Yates has congratulated the Cobblers on their title success, and admits he is hoping the Town players will be suffering a celebration hangover when the two teams meet at Sixfields on Tuesday night (ko 7.45pm).
Town wrapped up the Sky Bet League Two title at the weekend when their 0-0 draw at Exeter City proved to be enough to seal the championship as rivals Oxford United lost and Accrington drew.
It sparked wild celebrations among the Town players down in Devon, but they were back at work at Sixfields on Monday and preparing to take on Crawley on Tuesday night.
The talk from the Sixfields camp is that they are determined to end the season on a high and stretch their 20-match unbeaten run even further, but Yates is keeping his fingers crossed that winning the title will take the edge off the Cobblers’ performance.
“Northampton deserve to be champions, and they are the best team we have played,” said former Cheltenham Town boss Yates.
“I have seen them a few times, and the have been good, so well done to Chris Wilder and his team for that.
“Hopefully they have had a couple of days celebrating, but I heard Alan (Knill) on the radio the other day saying they wanted to get as many points as they can, so that’s a bit worrying!
“Well done to them though. We will pay them the respect their achievements deserve, and then we will try and set about causing a bit of an upset and getting something out of the game.”
Yates is clearly an admirer of the Cobblers, and says the key to them running away with the title has been Wilder’s recruitment policy, and in particular his squad strengthening in the January transfer window.
“Northampton are a good side, and they have players that have won the league before,” said Yates.
“Chris has recruited well, particularly in the January window when I thought his recruitment of Luke Prosser, James Collins and Danny Rose showed that they really meant business.
“They put all of their troubles behind them and have run out deserved winners of the league.”
Crawley are on a run of six games without a win, and have lost their past four, one of those being a 5-1 thrashing at home to Oxford.
Yates felt they turned in an improved performance in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at play-off chasing AFC Wimbledon, and he wants his players to maintain that performance level at Northampton.
“We are going to try and go there and make a game of it,” said Yates.
“We know it is going to be tough, and we are going to have to do things as well as we did on Saturday, because I thought we were good then, but unfortunately couldn’t see the game through.
“The work-rate was good and we looked like we had learned a lot from our previous defeats.
“But we have no pressure on us, hopefully Northampton will be full of party spirit and cheer and we can go there and give them a game.”