Gaffer calls on his players to deliver more high level performances in upcoming games.
Manager Adam Murray has called upon his players to keep their foot on the gas ahead of back-to-back home games in the coming week against Bury and AFC Wimbledon.
Our team go into this game on the back of two impressive results on the road – a priceless 1-0 victory at Newport County, before last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Cheltenham Town.
With three wins from our last four home matches, our form at One Call Stadium has been impressive in recent weeks, and Murray is keen for our players to give 110% effort in ensuring that continues.
“Obviously it would be great to get six points and we’ll be doing everything that we can to do that,” said Murray.
“We’ve made this place a little bit of a fortress at the minute and the only way we can continue that is to keep our foot down and go in at 110%.
“We understand the challenges that we’re going to face over probably the next month of games and we’re prepared. We’ve put ourselves in a semi-decent position, but there’s no point doing all the hard work and getting to where we’ve got, if we’re going to take our foot off the gas and sit back.
“So our focus is firmly on Bury and we want to get something out of the game.”
He continued: "It's been a decent week. We've had to train on the pitch a couple of days this week because our training ground has been closed, but 'Mez' (Michael Merriman, groundsman) has been working hard on the pitch to make sure that we get it right."
Speaking about the Shakers in more detail, our gaffer added: “We’re going into the game now a little bit of a different animal [compared to when we lost at Bury in December], we’ve got a lot more confidence in the group and we’ll be looking to put them on the back foot.
“Bury have obviously had a very good season so far themselves. Knowing a couple of the guys down there, I know they’ve got high expectations and they’re probably batting a bit lower than where they expect to be.
“With the resources and the infrastructure that they’ve put in, they are a top three side in this league and they’ll be expecting to get in there, so it’s a great game for us, a good challenge, and we go into it all guns firing.”
In injury news, winger Junior Brown is still expected to miss our next couple of games, but news on his hamstring injury isn’t as bad as was first feared.
“Junior had a scan in the early part of this week and fortunately it’s not as bad as first expected, but this weekend and Tuesday may come a little too soon,” continued Murray.
“We obviously presumed the worst with the way that he came off so we were happy that it wasn’t long-term, but these games might come a little bit too quick for him.”
If Brown does miss out, youngster Jeffrey Monakana, on loan with us from Sky Bet Championship outfit Brighton & Hove Albion, could be handed a place in the starting line-up.
Our boss added: “We’ve got a good option in Jeff coming in. I think he’s shown glimpses of what he’s about when he’s had the opportunity and he’s more than capable of coming in and doing a very good job.
“He’s a bit different to Junior. He’s more direct, he’s obviously very quick and he carries the ball well, so he’s a great option to have and I’m pleased for him.”
Several first team players got a run out for our reserve team in a Final Third Development League (East Division) fixture away to Doncaster Rovers in midweek.
Despite trailing by three goals after 50 minutes, a penalty by Matt Rhead and a goal by Rakish Bingham set up a tense finale, but it wasn’t enough as our second-string ultimately lost 3-2.
Reflecting on the game, Murray said: “We got some minutes into a couple of the boys, so it was good for them and it was a decent game. The lads put a good shift in so we were pleased with them.”
One of those players who played 90 minutes in South Yorkshire was defender Michael Raynes, who has been out of action for the last few weeks.
“He’s raring to go is ‘Raynesy’,” continued the gaffer. “The tough thing for him at the minute is ‘Riles’ (Martin Riley) and ‘Taff’ (Ryan Tafazolli) they’ve been performing at what I feel is a high level over the last couple of weeks.
“So ‘Raynesy’ is a professional, he’s a top man and a leader in the dressing room and he’s been in the game long enough to understand that he’ll have to bide his time and wait for his shirt again.”