There’s a place in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup at stake when we visit Northampton on Sunday and Neal Ardley says we’ll need to be at our best to progress.
The Cobblers are flying high in Sky Bet League Two and are unbeaten in seven matches in all competitions, winning six.
Conversely, we’ve found wins hard to come by of late and go into the weekend as underdogs.
And the boss is excited ahead of what he expects to be a very difficult clash.
“They’re overwhelming favourites and that’ll make it a lot harder but it’s nice to be underdogs for a change,” said Ardley.
“We’re away from home against the form team of League Two and they have all the qualities to cause us no end of problems.
“They’re a powerful side with big, strong defenders, midfielders and forwards, and they’ll really go at us.
“They’re very attack-minded and have talented players that can cause problems with the ball at their feet, as well as being a threat with crosses into our box.
“Put it all together and we’re going to have to be on our ‘A’ game and, if we can get everything right and upset Northampton, the potential of a big tie is there.”
With Premier League sides entering the competition in the next stage, Ardley has begun to dream of drawing a huge opponent.
“Belper was a banana skin and we couldn’t taste the third round, but now the excitement is bubbling,” he explained.
“There’s no better feeling on a Monday at 7pm than turning on the TV ready to find out who you might get at that stage – it really grips you.
“I want that feeling around the club. If you get a really good tie you go into the Christmas period with everyone keeping their levels high to get into the team.
“An FA Cup run takes the club on an upward spiral both on and off the pitch. It enhances your season and adds excitement so it’s not a burden at all – I’d be delighted with three or four more games.”
Although we’re the underdogs on Sunday, the boss says it’s not a free hit.
“It’ll be an achievement to win the game rather than an expectation, but we’re still putting pressure on ourselves because there’s a place in the third round at stake,” added Ardley.
“There’s nothing worse than losing and seeing the opposition come out of the hat with a brilliant draw.
“Northampton are overwhelming favourites and we want to challenge ourselves, so I hope we do ourselves justice and perform to a high standard to cause them problems.
“It’ll be a marker of whether we can cope with a side from their level and hopefully the magic of the FA Cup works in our favour.”