Here we are again at Stonebridge Road with the games arriving quickly on top of one another and I’d like to welcome Gordon Bartlett and all at Wealdstone to today’s game.
It’s obviously not been an ideal time for us results-wise since we got that excellent win here against Margate. At Gosport we had a lot of possession after a poor first half while at Chelmsford, they put us under a lot of pressure in the first half which I thought we coped well with. We knew it would be hard and we’d have to choose our moments on the counterattack, which we did numerous times but didn’t capitalise on. But in that period after we scored, we broke another couple of times and they looked like they’d run out of steam. We were stepping into the game in the second half and I thought we had them on the ropes but the sending-off killed us.
It was never a red card. I spoke to Billy Bricknell and he said he went down on contact like any striker would; I don’t blame Billy for that, it’s part of the game, but Dave Winfield has hardly touched him. The referee couldn’t wait to get the card out.
We could appeal but it’s always difficult at this level; you hardly ever hear of successful appeals. You get one camera angle and even though you can see Dave hasn’t done a lot wrong, the footage doesn’t hold much value in the scheme of things. We had it last year against Hayes & Yeading when Tom Bonner was sent off for being thrown into a goal and that wasn’t overturned, so I’d be dubious at this stage that an appeal is worth it.
Wealdstone come here today having invested in some great players. The likes of Danny Green and Elliot Benyon are talented and will ask a few questions of us. Obviously, we need to perform to lift our mood and get some more points on the board. But every time we draw or lose we can’t think it’s the end of the world… certainly inside the changing room, that mindset isn’t the one to adopt.
One thing the players have seen first-hand when we’ve lost in the last two games is the celebrations in the opposite changing room are incredible. That was something on Monday night at Chelmsford that got to the players: it got under their skin a little bit and they’re angry about it and we need to channel that in the same way teams do when they look to turn us over. It’s up to us to keep the opposition’s changing room quiet.
We find ourselves in a situation that requires togetherness and reaction. Personally, this has been the hardest couple of weeks for me. As a new manager, I haven’t had to face this before, losing two matches in a row and dropping points elsewhere that I’ve not been happy about. But it’s part of the game and part of the learning process and I can speak for myself and my players when I say it’s a challenge we are determined to meet head-on. It’s key we stick together in moments like this. There’s spirit in adversity and the players have showed me that and will continue to.
When the wheels come off a little bit and you’re looking to get back on track that’s when it’s imperative that your mentality is toughness and togetherness. That’s easy to take for granted when you’re winning. The best teams that are successful across a season don’t finger-point when they hit an obstacle, they look in-house, question themselves and come out of it with a plan and a determination to move on. And I am confident that this group will do that.
Please get behind the boys on the field this afternoon in what will be a tough and noisy atmosphere. Enjoy the game.