Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is bracing his Cobblers team for a ‘hostile’ reception when they walk out at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday (ko 3pm).
Relegation-haunted Town take on Bristol Rovers in a crucial Sky Bet League League One showdown, and Hasselbaink knows the test in the west country is likely to be a daunting one.
We have to cope, we have to be strong, and we have to try to be in their faces and try to play positive football. We have to try to quieten the crowd down and earn the right to playCobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
The Cobblers have tasted success there in the not too distant past, with John-Joe O’Toole scoring the only goal of the opening-day success in August, 2015, but their most recent trip there was most definitely a painful one.
In what turned out to be Rob Page’s final game in charge, Town were humiliated 5-0, a scoreline Rovers spectacularly managed to better when they won 6-0 at Sixfields in October.
Indeed, Town have lost their three most recent meetings with the Gas, conceding 14 goals in the process, and Hasselbaink knows this weekend could be an uncomfortable one if his players are not up for the fight.
“Rovers are a good team, and it is a hostile ground,” said the Cobblers boss.
“Their players are in your faces when you play there, they make it really hard for you, and we will have to try to cope with it.
“We have to cope, we have to be strong, and we have to try to be in their faces and try to play positive football.
“We have to try to quieten the crowd down and earn the right to play.
“It is one of those grounds where you go and you know what you are going to get, you are going to get an honest, hard working team, who can also play really good football if you let them.
“We can’t afford to let them do that.”
With the Cobblers’ trip to Blackpool postponed last weekend, Hasselbaink did at least get the chance to see Rovers in the flesh as he travelled to Stadium MK to take in Rovers’ 1-0 win over MK Dons on Saturday.
It was one of only three league one games to beat the big freeze, and although Hasselbaink was impressed with Darrell Clarke’s men, he believes there are weaknesses in their make-up to exploit.
“They are a good team, and we know they are, and against MK they were the better team,” said the Cobblers manager.
“They gave MK some problems, especially in the first half, and then in the second half MK Dons were on top and they gave them some problems.
“Hopefully we can learn from that, do the same, and capitalise.”