Criticism after the first two matches of the season has been a key motivational factor in Mansfield Town’s surge up the table, says midfielder Jamie McGuire.
Mansfield slipped to an opening day defeat in the league at Scunthorpe before being dumped out of the Capital One cup by Tranmere just days later.
But since then impressive Stags have gone six games unbeaten, claiming three wins in the process, and are currently eighth in the table.
“After the first two matches of the season people starting asking questions about us,” said McGuire.
“Since then we have stepped up as individuals and as a team and have worked hard to get the results.”
Experienced shot-stopper Alan Marriott added: “There were questions being asked about us after the first two games and whether we were good enough or not for the Football League.
“It was all about getting adjusted to our new surroundings and we have done that. We have got an excellent fighting spirit and six games unbeaten is a good response.
“There is not much of a gap between the Conference and League Two, we are just playing against bigger names.”
Mansfield will be confident of shooting down Northampton on Saturday as they look to extend their unbeaten run to seven matches and mark Paul Cox’s 100th league game in charge with three points.
“This is a great chance to extend our unbeaten run, but it will not be an easy game,” said McGuire.
“Northampton Town are in a false position, they are a good team with a good set of players. We need a quick start to hopefully knock their confidence.
“The league table is looking good for us. We have had a good start to the season and we have just got to try and keep this run going. To do that it is important that we win our home games.
“We have got a strong squad and have got good players who can slot in when we have injuries and suspensions.
The game marks the start of a key period for Stags, who face bitter rivals Chesterfield next weekend before winnable back-to-back home games against Bristol Rovers and Hartlepool.