Hasselbaink challenges Cobblers to maintain form against '˜quality' Scunthorpe team
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has challenged the Cobblers to maintain their hard-earned momentum as they take on Scunthorpe United in the FA Cup first round on Saturday.
Town go into the clash with the Iron on the back of a three-match unbeaten run in Sky Bet League One.
Spirits at Sixfields have been lifted by the team taking seven points out of nine, and it could well be a cause of frustration for Hasselbaink that Town don’t have the chance to keep that run going as the team battles to get away from the lower reaches of the table.
The FA Cup date with Scunthorpe is followed by a Checkatrade Trophy match against Southampton Under-21s on Tuesday, meaning a two-week break from league action.
So is this break from the bread and butter a frustration for Hasselbaink?
“It could be, but you can see it in two ways,” said the Cobblers boss, who has said he is likely to make one or two changes to his starting line-up.
“You can see it like that, but you can see it as a challenge, as a mental test.
“Can we not worry about that and just do the job and be professional?
“Can we go into the game as another hurdle that we have to overcome in a long season, and try to finish in a positive way.”
Graham Alexander’s team arrive at Sixfields on an identical run of league form to the Cobblers.
Once again, winger Josh Morris has been a key man and is the Iron’s top scorer, with Lee Novak also a threat.
Beaten in the play-offs at the semi-final stage last season, Scunthorpe are again challenging the top six this time around, currently sitting fifth with 25 points from 16 games.
“Scunthorpe have got quality, they are a very good team and they play good football,” said Hasselbaink.
“Individually, they have players who can hurt you, and it is going to be a real test.
“It will be a different test to Blackpool, because they play in a 4-4-2, so they play two strikers for the majority of the time, and they are very physical.
“But we are at home and we want to keep on going.
“We are building a bit of momentum at the moment, and can we keep building that? Can we not forget about the past three matches, but can we keep it in the back of our mind and keep on pushing?
“The mental aspect, and the professionalism is going to be very important, and that is what I will be looking at for the game.”
Hasselbaink was delighted with his team’s performance in the win over the Seasiders last week, and analysing the game on video insists Town were worthy winners.
“When you speak straight away after the game to you guys, you have just come out of the game, you are quite emotional and happy, and in a way hot-headed,” said the Cobblers boss.
“But having the Sunday, and the Monday, and having looked back at the game, we did well, and looking at the performance, I must say I was very happy.
“Sometimes when you look back at the video, you see certain things and think ‘oh, that’s not good’, but I thought it was a good team performance.
“I said on the day that we didn’t give a chance away, but we did give one chance away, but that was our own mistake where Aaron Pierre had to clear the ball off the line.
“We created three good chances, in the first minute, we scored the goal from a little bit of idividual brilliance, and in the second half we played it out professionally and got the best chance of the game.
“So overall we should be happy, and we are happy.
“This week it is now about trying to reinforce those things that we have done well, and try to add to that.
“We can have more control with the ball as a team, and we are happy with the performance but we are also trying to move on, not stand still.
“We have to push on and keep trying to grow.”