Ahead of the game against Bath City, we sat down with manager Bobby Wilkinson, where he discussed tonight’s match, alongside the club’s improvement going forward
Bobby, another game at home without a loss. How important is it to keep the unbeaten home run going?
We played four teams towards the bottom of the table last year and we didn’t pick up one point. That just shows how competitive this league is. This year we are improving by taking points off the bottom teams, and now we just need to change those draws into wins. But, let’s stay positive, look forward to the challenge and get three points.
We had two debut players who I felt slotted in as if they had been part of the squad all season. What does it mean to you to have players who can immediately be called into the XI and perform to a high level?
Ben [Winterburn] came in and did a brilliant job. I’m really pleased that Bournemouth have allowed him to come to us. [Jared Thompson] is first class. As you can see he made two unbelievable saves, so I was really pleased with his performance on the day as well.
I was really impressed with how Ben Thomson was able to anticipate the collision between the two Welling players for our goal. Is the ability to capitalise on these types of mistakes something that is pure chance or is this something that is discussed in training?
He did a high press and he didn’t give up. What I always say to the boys is make sure you keep working and believe that you will receive the ball, because the chances will come eventually. In that scenario, he thought a goal was going to happen and he got it.
Thomson is playing really well at the moment; he’s in good form.
Only a few days ago Keelan said that the club is gearing towards a place where everyone is happy, and I have noticed myself that a big change from last season is that the squad in particular seem more close. How important is this type of atmosphere when it comes to building for the future?
The boys know where we want to be. We will just keep challenging ourselves and driving ourselves forward as much as we can. We will always go out there and try to win a game of football.
We now face Bath City on Tuesday who sit near the top of the table with a strong squad. Just how much of a challenge will it be to go toe-to-toe with this team?
Bath is just our next game, and it’s one that we’re looking forward to. We’re going to try and win, but we’ve got to make sure we’re on the front foot and we press high.
Of course we have faced them in the FA Cup already this season, and were not quite able to get a result. How eager are the lads to get their revenge?
This game is a different one now. We’ve improved defensively. Our defensive record is as good as Bath and better than Torquay, which shows a growing improvement in being hard to beat. What’s crazy is that if we beat them, we are only four points behind them. Only a few weeks ago they were top of the league.
This will be a Tuesday night game, as was Yeovil two weeks prior alongside Truro two weeks from now. You’ve previously spoken about the frustration of these extra games being towards the midpoint of the season. As a manager, how do you make sure the lads stay focused and motivated?
The boys have been preparing right and have done what we need them to do. They’re a great bunch of players and great to manage. It is back-to-back games again, but we don’t moan about it. That’s just the way football goes. What we do know is that we’re facing Bath and it’s going to be a competitive game. We’re going to stay positive.
Your track record suggests that you appear to come strong with your promotions during the second half of the season. However, we’re only in November and yet we’re 10 points better off than this time last year. How important is it that we’ve made this improvement?
It’s so important. I’ve found that I usually enter the play-offs after Christmas, because you’re still learning and chopping and changing here and there whilst you find the right system and personnel. That’s what managers do in a season.
After Christmas, when teams get complacent, my teams in the past drive on and start getting better. For two of my promotions I wasn’t in the top 12 at Christmas, but then we got promoted both times
We are pleased where we are to a point, but we would like to have had another four or five points.
But, we are 10 points better off in a very challenging league, which shows improvement. It shows how competitive the league is; if you win two you’re in the top eight, but if you lose you’re in the bottom four.
What has been the key message to the players leading up to the game?
Be brave on the ball and turn up and believe that you can win. Our performances can be better at times, but you do have to take into account the conditions and who you’re up against.
The boys are adapting and managing games very well, but they’ve also got to believe they can score goals. Hopefully that will come in the future.