Peterborough United manager Steve Evans reckons tomorrow’s (April 2) League One local derby at the ABAX Stadium (3pm) is one of the most important games against Northampton of all-time.
Posh will be chasing the win that would guarantee a return to the top six (they would definitely overtake either Scunthorpe or Plymouth who play each other) while Northampton are in desperate need of three points to boost their fading chances of avoiding the drop. Northampton were crushed 4-0 at home by Charlton on Good Friday when Posh were rescuing a point at promotion rivals Rotherham with a 98th-minute equaliser from 30-goal Jack Marriott.
Posh have won all three League matches against Cobblers since their neighbours won promotion from League Two and that’s a record Evans is naturally keen to extend.
But he has already warned his players about the possible pitfalls facing his side.
“This is a huge game for both clubs,” Evans stated. “It must be one of the most important derbies because of what’s at stake. We are fighting for different prizes, but they will be as determined as us to get three points tomorrow.
“In my meeting with the players yesterday I stressed how hungry Northampton will be. They will be hurting after Friday’s result and I would expect a reaction from them.
“But if we look after our own performance and play as well as we can we should be okay, but that’s not guaranteed either. We will have to work very hard and we will have to play much better than we have been playing recently.
“We stuck in at Rotherham which was pleasing, but we can play much better than that. I expect a reaction from us as well because we cannot keep relying on Jack to get us out of trouble. Some times those points you nick in unlikely circumstances can be the crucial points, but to be honest draws might not be a lot of good for us or Northampton for the rest of the season.
“I need more from my better players. Marcus Maddison can do much better for a start.
“The fact we have a derby in front of a big crowd should help us. As should the fact we are guaranteed a return to the top six if we win. The club would probably have taken sixth spot with six matches to go at the start of the season.
“It’s important we get our future in our own hands. At Mansfield last season we were a long way back needing snookers, but we reached the last day with a shot at the play-offs. But we had to win and have three other results go our way and that’s a situation I want to avoid this season.”
Posh are still monitoring first-choice centre-back Ryan Tafazolli’s hamstring issue, but club captain Jack Baldwin is now free from suspension.
Key midfielder Gwion Edwards has an outside chance of returning to the squad according to Evans.