This league is demanding and relentless, both physically and mentally

Bobby, obviously we spoke about the result yesterday. It seemed like the message was clear for what the players need to do for tomorrow’s game.

The message was clear. We need to go to Braintree and make sure we’re organised and better in the final third. Whether that’s hold-up play, better deliveries, or hitting the target, that’s where we can hopefully be better tomorrow night, at a very tough ground.

With you mentioning our final-third play, you spoke about Tom Bearwish’s late runs into the box being missed. As a manager, are you always thinking of different ways we can threaten the opposition and score?

We didn’t have a third-man runner on Saturday, as we were trying to stay organised. Now, we have to give Braintree Town a bit more of a challenge. We want to go there and cause an upset; we will attack a lot more. But, we know how dangerous that could be, so we still need to make sure we have a game plan, because they’ll come out thick and fast. They will want to go 14 games unbeaten, but we want to stop that run.

It seems like this will be another individual battle performance, where each player will need to do their individual job on the pitch.

Yes, we have to stay switched on. That won’t change tomorrow; we have to win our individual battles. We were switched on for most of Saturday, but if you switch off for one minute against a team like Braintree you get punished.

But, despite that, there are still positives worth talking about, particularly Harvey’s performances since joining the side. He’s a real calming presence in goal, isn’t he?

The whole backline is playing extremely well. They’ll be playing their fourth game together tomorrow, which is good because it means we have a settled defence. As I’ve said in the past, after Christmas you always want a settled side. Since then, we’ve had to deal with injuries and suspensions. That’s football, we understand these things happen, but we’re lucky that our back five will stay the same for tomorrow.

With the mention of injuries, we did have a different centre-back pairing at the start of this year, so it becomes even more crucial that Corey Panter and Jordon Thompson have managed to step up.

They’ve definitely stepped up, and the fact that we’ve started to pick up points again shows how well they’ve done. But, we need to start doing that again tomorrow. We’ve got some tough fixtures coming up.

This league is demanding and relentless, both physically and mentally. That’s why I always speak to the boys about handling pressure. It will certainly be demanding tomorrow, with travel, but these are the types of games you want to be involved in. You want to enjoy the fact that most people think you don’t have a chance, just like no one thought we had a chance against Aveley or Dartford, but we’ve gone away from home and picked up some crucial wins. This year has been a good year away from home. Long may it continue.

We’ve spoken a few times about our ability to step up away from home, is there anything in particular that gives the lads that extra boost of confidence before these matches?

For some reason we just play really well away from home. You have to be more focused and enjoy going to the lion’s den. There will be a big crowd tomorrow, so we will have to enjoy making the fans upset. They’ve won so many games at home, so they have been spoilt this season. It’s up to us to make them go quiet.

Is this an indication that our players are performing increasingly better under pressure?

We speak about it a lot. At the start of the season, we were quite nervous, but now we’ve settled down. I want the boys to play football, as long as they’re playing in the right areas. But, I could sense a bit of nerves on the ball at the weekend. Tomorrow, I want us to keep the ball better and believe we can win. We usually do that away from home, but it’s something we will continue to work on.

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

Don’t fear Braintree; take the game to them. Look forward to going there. We’ve gone to away teams as the underdog before and won, so let’s do that again. It will be difficult, but we need to stick together as a group, regardless of what is thrown at us.

Interview by
Jack Webb

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