Standards must stay high, on and off the pitch - Bobby Wilkinson

Of course it was disappointing to have the game called off, though we spoke about their pitch, so it was perhaps expected. How has the response been since?

It wasn’t a surprise that it was called off. We assumed it would happen, so we made sure we were ready to train and prepare for what will be one of the hardest games of the season on Saturday.

Braintree Town are the most in-form team in the league at the moment, and we’re playing them back-to-back. I drove up to watch them on Tuesday night and they really impressed me. I can see why they’re in such good form.

I suppose the one good outcome is that the game was called off on a Tuesday night, so there hasn’t been a lengthy gap since our win at Aveley. There won’t have been any momentum lost after last week.

There’s no momentum lost. It just meant that we could regroup and start analysing the next team, which we did straight away. We’re already ahead in that department; now we just need to make sure that our game plan will work. We’ve studied Btaintree a hell of a lot, which you always have to do against the top teams. We have to stop a team who are absolutely flying.

It seems like the important thing right now is to keep focus and standards as high as possible.

Standards must stay high, on and off the pitch. That’s a must in my world. We speak about it every week. Everyone’s standards have been brilliant all season, but it should never drop.

Speaking to Harvey, he told us that, once he had a chat with the groundsmen, he realised just how much work goes into looking after the pitch. Is it those little things behind-the-scenes, the things that people don’t see, that help push the club forward?

I text the groundsmen every week. Without them, we don’t have a great pitch. But, it’s not just the groundsmen. We rely on all volunteers, such as the ones that help out with analysis or pre-match meals, because of finance. We need the people who step in and help us. But, this is why we’ve had a good season. Everyone has come together.

But, based on the YouTube comment following your post-match Aveley interview, people are taking a real notice of the community feel around the club.

That doesn’t cost any money. Everyone inside the club knows about the togetherness, and they feel part of it. It’s not just about the first-team, it’s about everyone at the football club. Yes, they play every Saturday, but the women’s team and under-23s are important, too. I’ve been to a lot of women’s, youth, and under-23 games this year, because, as a manager, I’ve got to make sure that I manage those sides just as well.

Going back to Braintree, we spoke about them earlier in the season, before the game had been called off. Since then, they haven’t lost a game. It’s fair to say that this is another opportunity to go toe-to-toe with, as you’ve already said, a team who are flying!

That’s what I’m looking forward to. I’ve set a challenge to my players: Can you secure back-to-back wins against two top teams?

A lot of people won’t think we can. Braintree will come to us full of confidence; they will think this is an easy win for them. But, they thought that last year and we beat them 1-0.

Ultimately, if you’re not prepared and ready you will get beat, and we need to make sure we stay switched on for the full 90 minutes. It’s a challenge, but one we look forward to.

Their defence needs no introduction. However, they are up against our increasingly strong attack. All of that considered should make up a fairly exciting game.

They’re also very entertaining. They’re one of the best sides I’ve seen this year going forward. Absolutely brilliant. But, it’s the next game, so we just have to go toe-to-toe with them. We have to win our individual battles if we want to beat them. They’ve proven that they can win games away from home, so they will come here extremely confident.

Could that prove as extra motivation for the players, if we’re the underdogs?

Yes. There’s never any harm being an underdog, in any part of life. As it stands on paper, they’re the favourites, but let’s see where we are at 5.30pm on Saturday. I want Braintree to go home knowing how good we are, and how much we’ve improved since they faced us last year. They’ll know we’re, apart from a couple of blips, in good form. Hopefully we can take last week’s confidence into this game.

As always, what has been the key message to the players going into tomorrow’s game?

Win your individual battles. This will be an individual-battle performance, but we’ve also got to play as a unit. Togetherness wins games. That’s why Braintree are where they are.

Interview by
Jack Webb


Similar Posts