Michael Timlin won the Esquire Developments Man of the Match this afternoon on his home debut and the vocal midfielder wants his teammates to defy the odds whatever it takes this season.
“Everyone’s expecting us to get relegated,” he told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “We’ve been in the bottom zone all season so if we do come out of this, it will go down in history. And that’s what I’ve said to the players before and the management always reiterate that. It’s a massive factor for us to do that because we will be remembered.
“The boys we’ve got here are a great group. We’ve got the ability, a lot of them have been downbeat over the season, rightly so, but we are showing a commitment together and we are seeing signs we are capable of doing it.”
And the latest signing, from Stevenage, was delighted to finally make his bow in front of the home crowd.
“I was very happy to get the opportunity to play at home,” he said. “I’ve missed probably three or four since I’ve been here. It was lovely to be out there. The conditions weren’t great for us but I think we shaded the chances but it comes down to the result and we’re bitterly disappointed. It’s one of those that if we’re not going to be able to win the game, we have to make sure we at least get a point. Both teams have to play on that pitch so there’s no point complaining about it. I’d like to think we showed character to try and play on it.
“We had the better chances but credit to Stockport, they’re resilient and that’s probably why they’re a point or so outside the play-offs and we have to make sure we go again against Hartlepool.”
With the bottom of the table unchanged – bar an extra game played – Timlin’s focus now switches to next week’s long trip to Hartlepool.
“I know the cliché is we’ve got nine cup games but effectively that’s what it is. Even if you’re in the play-offs you have to go again if you get a bad result.
“It’s not going to be easy, we’re going to have to roll our sleeves up and be committed every single minute of the game but I’m fully confident we’ve got that. I think there are signs going forward. Obviously a little bit in the Chesterfield game wasn’t there but I think all the other games we’ve started to show a consistency and started to move towards what we need to be doing.
“But Hartlepool is going to be a very tough game, We will go there and look to get a positive result and we want to make sure we put on a display for the fans.”
With the games slipping away, Timlin’s fully aware that it’s all about being on the front foot – although that creates its own problems.
“We have to make sure we’re not getting too gung-ho, throwing bodies forward and leaving ourselves exposed,” he said. “The frustration is that we’ve probably conceded quite a few goals now in the last four or five games from set pieces. They say set pieces are 50% of your goals throughout the season so we have to tidy up on that. We have to be demanding of ourselves individually and collectively to make sure we’re doing things right. But we have to go for it now, be positive, on the front foot, stand up and be counted and see where it takes us.”
It’s taken a while for Timlin to get going after having to sit out the transfer embargo but he’s taken the positives out of a negative situation.
“This happens at football and it happens at bigger clubs,” he said. “It’s just you’re not aware of it as much. It was frustrating but I like to think I try to be a good pro, I try to do the right things so I knew I’d get the chance to play.
“But it gave me the opportunity to see what the boys were like. Had I come in and started playing straight away I might not have had that opportunity to see what they were like in the good scenarios and the bad scenarios. I fully appreciate the fact the gaffer and Tristan [Lewis] allowed me to be on the bench. I don’t know if you could see in the games I wasn’t involved, I’m very vocal. That’s me on the pitch so it was quite frustrating for me not to do that so I was trying to do it off the pitch.”
And despite celebrating his 35th birthday next month, Timlin’s passion and determination clearly remains undimmed, something the Fleet can only hope to benefit from.
“Winning man of the match today, I would have rathered the result, but I strive to do the best I can and want to prove people wrong,” he said. “So even at my age now, I know people might say I’m quite old but I’m determined to make sure I’m counted every minute of every game.
“It comes with determination, the desire to keep going. That’s why I think my managers have liked me, they’ve always said that I never give up. But especially the way gaffer wants us to play football, he’s a football man so in order to do so you have to be making more effort off the ball than you are when you don’t have it.
“It is strenuous at times but when we do make options off the ball, it makes a better scenario for the person on the ball. And it creates more space. There were times when we got caught out a little bit when we overplayed today but the times when we did play, we did very well so we have to back ourselves to play. But be mindful that a lot of these games are going to be a scrap, we have to make sure we’re ready to fight for whatever comes our way.”
Timlin registered one of Fleet’s shots on target midway through the second half and wasn’t far off a home debut goal.
“The gaffer at half-time said to shoot on sight, he went through the attacking minded boys and the midfielders and then he come to me and said, ‘Tims, maybe you pass it off…’ – but I’m one of those, I don’t score often but when I do they tend to be good goals so I backed myself to try and score. It was one of those, the further forward I was going I felt I would have looked negative if I passed it off to the side so I had to be brave and take the shot.”