After Saturday’s disappointing away defeat to Solihull Moors, Danny Searle’s men will look to bounce back against a Notts County side looking for revenge.
The Shots were victorious in the home fixture for them 1-0 back in October, but the Magpies will be looking to bounce back from their Buildbase FA Trophy semi-final defeat against Isthmian League Premier Division side Hornchurch FC on penalties, with their first Vanarama National League game under new manager Ian Burchnall.
Q: Danny it’s important to get back to the performances we know we’re capable of for the away trip to Notts County tomorrow.
“Yeah 100%, we know as a collective we weren’t good enough Saturday and that’s been discussed, we’ve put it to bed, we’ve worked on what we need to work on and obviously we’ve got a really tough game tomorrow at Notts County, so all focus is on that. The lads are in good spirits today so I’m looking forward to it.”
Q: The lads are in good spirits but just reflecting that back on the lads two games, it’s been difficult given we haven’t scored, I presume that would have been an important part of training ahead of tomorrow’s game.
“Yeah I think that’s been a disappointment because we have, as we said the other day, we’re one of the highest scorers in the league in a sense of goals taken to opportunities created, so to be the way we have been in the past two games has been disappointing but you know what, it is what it is we knew that at some point you’re going to hit that little bit of a wall and it’s how we react to it.
“We work on it, we don’t not work on it ever, we always work on our attacking play and that’s what makes it disappointing at times because I know what the lads are capable of doing and they know what they’re capable of doing. Look, at the end of the day we dust ourselves off and get ready to go tomorrow and hopefully take a performance up at Nottingham.”
Q: When we spoke about this and games would define our season, we’re about halfway through the tough fixture list we have got at the minute but there’s still time to prove things right.
“Yeah, it’s a really tough one because you’re talking about the season defining and where you’re going to be, we were alluded to this on Saturday it’s really difficult to group games up, especially how it’s ended up coming. We zoned the season up into areas which we thought we need to pick up points here, we’d like this amount of points in this month, with all the cancelled games it’s just come on top of us and we’ve got so many games, so many fixtures coming up and all of that goes out of the window because we’re trying to keep people fit and keep them on the pitch.
“I thought we looked really tired on Saturday and talking to a few of the lads on the coach on the way back and there’s an element of fatigue there and we’ve just got to try and manage that the best we can and get through this little period. Hopefully we can manage training in the sense of keeping them as fresh as we can, we’ll just roll our sleeves up and get on with it.”
Q: I suppose that’s mental fatigue as well as physical fatigue with the amount of re-arranged games that are going on.
“Yeah we highlighted some times in the season where we would try and give them a break and I don’t mean like they do with international duty, I mean just a day off here and a day off there just to let them refresh but we can’t do it.
“Even this weekend, we play Tuesday, we play Friday, we play Monday then Saturday so you’re thinking we can give them a couple of days off there but you can’t because we’ve got a game the next day, so we need to make sure we’ve got them in and we know what we’re doing, it’s difficult.
“I know it’s the same for everybody but it is difficult and we have got a few injuries and a few knocks and niggles, so it’s just managing it all and it’s nothing we can’t handle and won’t come through but it’s just making sure we just try and do it in the right way.”
Q: Exactly that and with these kinds of habits, long away games as well we’ve had Halifax but more importantly we’ve got Notts County on Tuesday.
“Yeah but even that, the following week we go to Yeovil then not long after that we’re talking mid-week in Weymouth, it just seems that the way fixtures have fallen it’s not been that nice to us and I actually think that we need to take some responsibility for that because there’s some games that have been re-arranged that I think we need to be stronger and say no we don’t want to play them then, we need a break and we need some time to let the lad’s legs recover.
I think what’s summed the season up for me is they expunged the Dover game and we’re the worst affected team by it because not only do we lose the points, we lose the five-goal difference and it shouldn’t affect you but the lads are devastated about it because a couple of the lads scored two goals in that game and it’s like every time we turn a corner we feel like we’re getting kicked in the knees a little bit.
“But we take it on the chin and as I’ve said, the boys are buzzing and they’re looking forward to tomorrow night’s game.”
Q: Exactly that and just referring to the Dover game, it’s arguably one of our best away performances, five goals against a tough team like Dover statistically and historically as well.
“At that stage of the season I think it was our third game in and it put a real marker down and we obviously had no idea what was going to happen with COVID and teams deciding that they didn’t want to finish the league. It’s been a tough year in a lot of ways on and off the field and we’ve just got to make sure that these last 16 games, we put foundations in place.
“I don’t like using the word freedom because that’s like we’re not taking it seriously, we are taking it seriously but we have got that freedom to start looking at players. People would have noticed we have been changing the team and we still want to win games but we also need to plan for next year. I want to get contracts sorted with players, I want to make sure that we’ve got a nucleus of a squad that we’re going into next season with a clear vision of what we want to do and it’s the first year we’ve probably been able to do that.
“Knowing that no matter what happens, even if we lose all 16 games we can’t be relegated, by the way we’re not going to try and do that. It does enable us to be able to try and build and really cement that philosophy and I think getting through these next four games is crucial because once it settles down a little bit, there’s a few weeks where we’ve only got one game that week and players can get a rest.
“It’s quite an exciting time because we can have a look at a few lads and say right okay, is he better in there, hopefully Kinsella is back very soon, Craig’s looking good so yeah we’re going to finish the season strong.”
Q: Of course for fans it’ll be good to see what will be here next season when hopefully they can come to the ground.
“I 100% get that fans want to win games and that’s all that matters and I understand that, that’s all that matters in our dressing room but there has to be an element of patience with it as well because we are going to try our players out, we are going to play players in some different positions, we are going to do that because we’ve got an opportunity to do it.
As the season goes on, we are going to put more youth players in the side to have a look at them and see if they can handle the level, that is going to happen. It might be to our detriment at times with the results but I think it’s important that with the opportunity we’ve got to build, we should definitely take that.”
Q: Just a quick note on Craig and Kins as you mentioned obviously recovering well, what’s the latest on them?
“Well, Kins will be in the squad tomorrow and we’re hoping that Craig, I don’t want to put too much pressure on it, in fact I’m not going to pressure on it because we’ve got an idea in our head but we’re not miles away.”
Q: That’s good to hear. Just on Notts County, they’ll be looking to bounce back given a disappointing FA trophy semi-final defeat on Saturday.
“Yeah, we’ve managed to get a hold of some footage of the game and they played some great stuff Notts County to be honest, the management team has gone in there and you can see a clear philosophy of what they’re trying to do and it was pleasing on the eye to be honest.
“I think you can’t take away the resilience that they showed, they looked like animals at times just chasing everything and I think when you’ve got that do or die in a sense that they’ve got nothing to lose to a certain degree because everyone expected them to get beat and they made it a real entertaining spectacle to be honest.
“I don’t think it matters whether Notts County won five nil or lost five nil, drew three all or lost on penalties, tomorrow night’s going to be a massive game and that manager is going to want to put his authority on it and that’s a tough place to go.”
Q: And they’ll be looking to bounce back for a number of reasons, both that game and of course we beat them here at home earlier in the season.
“Yeah, last season we lost up there and we beat them here and hopefully it doesn’t repeat itself because we beat them here and hopefully we can go up there and get something from the game.”
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