Hasselbaink says Cobblers are going to have '˜grind' their way to win over Rovers
Boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink says his Cobblers team will have to be prepared to '˜grind' their way to victory against high-flying Blackburn Rovers on Saturday (ko 2pm).
Tony Mowbray’s team arrive at Sixfields on a 14-match unbeaten run, and having won six in a row in Sky Bet League One.
It’s a run of form that has seen them shake off a sluggish start to the season to move up to third in the table and to just a point away from automatic promotion.
They haven’t lost since a 1-0 defeat at Oldham way back on October 14, but Hasselbaink believes his team are capable of upsetting the form book, particularly with confidence raised following last Saturday’s hard-fought win over in-form Walsall.
The Dutchman has been impressed with Blackburn, and their ability to battle their way to wins - and he says to have any chance of upsetting them this weekend, the Cobblers are going to have to match their physicality and work-rate.
“Blackburn are promotion candidates, they are a good team, and they are in a good moment,” said the Cobblers boss.
“They grind results out, and they can do the other side as well, and we are going to have to do both sides of the game really well.
“That is what we do with the ball, but also with the organisation without the ball as well.
“We will have to grind, we have to grind harder than them, and try to take them on where their weaknesses are.”
Hasselbaink is also keen for the Cobblers to turn their home into a stadium where opposition teams don’t want to come, although this weekend Rovers are going to be cheered on by 1,400 travelling supporters.
“We are at Sixfields, we are at our place, and we need to make it very difficult for other teams to come to our place,” said the Town boss.
“We have to make sure it is not only difficult to come here, but we have to also make sure it is a place of fortune for us.
“It shouldn’t matter who is in front of you, you should be able to give that same kind of commitment in every match, and hopefully we can do that.”
To be fair, the Cobblers have lost only one of their past six home games in all competitions - the 3-0 defeat to Scunthorpe last month - although last week’s win over the Saddlers was their first at Sixfields since beating Blackpool on October 28.
It was a hugely encouraging performance, with Town carrying a real attacking threat.
Hasselbaink had spoken prior to the game about getting the balance right between defence and attack, so have Town cracked it? Or do they still have work to do?
According to Hasselbaink it is the latter, and he said: “It is always going to be a work in progress.
“The balance looked really good, but we are in this job to be perfectionists.
“Yes, we are happy, but there are still things we can do better, and you have to keep on at that.
“It was good, but we can improve on it.”
And he wants the home fans to again play their part, just as they did against the Saddlers.
“We looked really good, we were more on the front foot and it helped that the crowd was with us,” said Hasselbaink.
“Of course we need to generate that ourselves as well, but it is so much better when the fans are giving us that energy.
“Yes, you need to earn it, but when we have them, it stimulates the players even more.”