10:15am Monday 17th March 2014
By John Light
THERE is one simple message this week. Keep the faith! There will be times when we doubt, times when we rejoice, but until it is all over we must believe. Believe in our manager, our players and above all show that belief – in both numbers and noise.
Of course Thursday was frustrating. Braintree does exactly what it says on the tin.
Analysis of their goals again column showed how tough it would be. Two things cost us the game. Firstly we gifted them two goals, and secondly in the second half we tried to play them at their own game, and that is not our way. With the two Braintree central defenders in superb form attacking down the flanks may have brought a different result.
Frustrating as the loss of three points was it should not mask the thrill of Tuesday when high- flying Salisbury were defeated in a marvellous game.
Add to that the three points won on a typically difficult Tamworth pitch and the defeat by Braintree is put in perspective. The Pennock points total remains impressive. We gained only seven points in September. We have just won nine in a week!
Quite rightly supporters of Dave Hockaday will say that in the main these results are being achieved by his players.
This is the real reason for frustration and it shows the maturity of the Pennock approach. In his recent video Sam Russell described the team he joined as raw. With DH being dismissive of senior players it remained so, and at times still is, especially in defence.
Ady has brought an increasing maturity to the team Lee Hughes is an obvious on field example, but there is much more to it than that.
Speaking after matches and on the admirable SNJ Ash video interviews you hear about him talking to the players – keeping them all in the mix.
At a busy time of the season he is maintaining morale, more than that he seems to be maximising it.
I do not think the word dropped is currently in his vocabulary. It should not be in ours either. With matches coming thick and fast the need to rest and rotate players is essential, perhaps horses for courses comes into team selection as well.
The effort shown by all our selected players indicates that everyone is behind him. Of course we will be surprised by some individual selection issues, but be that as it may. I am convinced the best sixteen players will be on match day duty.
All of us will have been thrilled to see Chris Stokes back on duty at Tamworth. Unless Turley, Stokes and Hodgkiss are available for selection we are weak at full-back. Binnom-Williams was not the answer and Prince has lost form. With Turley needed now at centre-half Chris is going to be needed. Giving him 45 minutes at Tamworth was essential. Let us hope it is 90 minutes against Grimsby.
It is impossible to look ahead with any clarity apart from congratulating Luton and the grand old man of non-league football John Still.
Surprises will happen very week. Barnet are having a terrible run despite impressing us all. Out of the blue Alfreton are docked three points and with Kidderminster back in the hunt, now sanity has been restored at Aggborough anything can happen.
All that is certain is that we have eleven matches left, with three points at stake for everyone. For so many teams in our league there is much to play for, and the same can be said for many players. They are playing for their livelihoods.
James Turley says (NLP March 16) I could be out of work in a few weeks. I hope he is not, but many conference players do face an uncertain future.
Managers looking ahead to next season keep their options open, and some players do as well but at FGR the news that Turley, Hodgkiss and Yan K are committed to us for next season will be reassuring.
I believe Yan has already been offered a contract and, as well as hoping he signs it, this column joins with the many who are congratulating him on his goal scoring feats.
His approach to the game is exemplary. He may not be our best player but he is the best example to all younger players.
This unbelievable conversation closes the column. It took place at half time on Thursday evening.
Scout: “It is worse for me. The player I have come to watch is not playing.”
Light: “Who is it? Matty Taylor?”
Scout: “No Sheffield Wednesday have sent me to watch Wes Burns.”
He was a season too late.
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