Austin confident Cobblers can impose themselves on in-form Plymouth Argyle
The dust had barely settled on his first victory as caretaker manager of the Cobblers when Dean Austin was setting his sights on doubling that win tally when in-form Plymouth Argyle come to Sixfields on Saturday (ko 3pm).
Taking his seat on the team bus following the dramatic 3-2 win over Bury at Gigg Lane last weekend, there was no time for Austin to kick his feet back and enjoy a moment of celebration.
Oh no, the former Watford coach’s attentions immediately turned to this weekend’s opponents, and how the Cobblers could beat them to maintain their late bid for survival in Sky Bet League One.
“I have been thinking about Plymouth from when I got on the bus at about 5.30pm last Saturday,” admitted Austin, who had just enjoyed his first win as a manager in the Football League.
“I had the videos on, and watched four different halves of games on the way home, including the first half of last Saturday’s game.
“They are a decent side and we have to respect them, but within that respect we need to impose our game on them.”
Midfielder Graham Carey has been the main man for the Pilgrims this season, with plenty of trademark long range strikes in his top-scorer tally of 14 goals.
But they are far more than a one-man team, and although Austin acknowledges that fact, he is concentrating on exactly how his Cobblers players can inflict damage on the Devonians.
“We have worked on a couple of things tactically, where we can impose ourselves on them, as obviously they have some very good players,” said Austin.
“But we won’t be targeting anybody individually, simply because we have to concentrate on what we are going to do.”
As well as good players, Plymouth have a very good manager in Derek Adams.
The Scotsman made a great start to life at Home Park, and his team led the way in Sky Bet League Two until January in the 2015/16 season, before Chris Wilder’s Cobblers juggernaut overhauled them.
The Pilgrims underwent something of a collapse in the second half of that season, and went on to miss out on promotion as they lost in the play-off final to AFC Wimbledon.
But Adams rebuilt the squad, they were promoted last season, and this campaign, after a very difficult start, they have been exceptional.
Indeed, they have lost just twice in the league since November 25, and have risen from the relegation zone in November to serious play-off contenders.
Argyle dropped to seventh thanks to midweek results, but with a game in hand on rivals their promotion fate is still in their own hands, and Austin believes that means they arrive at Sixfields under as much pressure as the Cobblers.
“The manager there has done a fantastic job,” said the Town caretaker boss.
“He went in a couple of years ago, he got them promoted last season, and it looked at the beginning of this season that they were going to struggle a bit.
“We went there at the beginning of November and they were below us, but they have had a fantastic run of results, and watching their games you can see why they have done as well as they have, so full credit to them.
“But they are in a different situation, and they have pressure as well.
“They need to win the game because they have teams hot on their heels, trying to push them for that play-off place, but obviously we just need to concentrate on our own game.”