Thursday, 22 March 2012

Pre-Dagenham thoughts (20.03.12)

Following on from the Look Black n Amber exclusive earlier in the week, here’s the next piece from my portfolio, found in the Matchday Programme on Tuesday night. The opponents: Dagenham + Redbridge.

“Good evening.
Saturday’s game against Morecambe was a real game of two halves. At the end of the match we were very disappointed to come away with nothing. First half playing down the slope I thought we really took the game to them; we passed it around well and created enough chances to have it wrapped up by half time. As is the case at the moment, it only took Morecambe one opportunity to score at the end of the first 45 minutes. From our point of view, it was another sloppy goal to give away, and at the end of the day, that one mistake really cost us.
From going goals behind in the past, we’ve had the ability to turn it around and when you have attacking players of our quality, there is always a threat there. When Morecambe got their second though, it was simply a case of game over. At full time we were all aware that our second half performance wasn’t good enough – despite Morecambe defending well, we were too flat – and we simply can’t be making those kind of errors anymore. We now need to put that match behind us and move forward and what better opportunity than in front of the home crowd tonight in a six pointer against Dagenham and Redbridge.
Six of our final nine games including tonight are at home, and despite our away performances being better this season, we need to somehow turn that around and give our fans something to shout about at Underhill. We all know we need to make home advantage count, as every point at this stage of the season is vital. We went out with that mindset on Saturday and weren’t able to deliver the goods, so tonight is a good opportunity to put things right. I can’t put my finger on why our away performances have been better, but it started back earlier in the season with our cup runs. The fact is, we do need to do better at home, and like I said, what better time than tonight – at this stage of the season, one good result can turn our luck around and with the fans behind us, we can gain momentum.
As I’ve said in previous notes, playing well for 45 minutes doesn’t count for anything when we leave games without a point; we need to start playing consistently well for the entire match, take our chances and ultimately cut out any silly mistakes, particularly when defending.
Our next two games are huge: tonight against Dagenham and then Macclesfield away on Friday night. Depending how we fare points-wise at the end of the week, it’s fair to say those results alone will either make it a lot easier or a lot more difficult in terms of our scrap down the bottom. Our situation at present is a lot better than it was earlier in the season – we’ve not been in the bottom two for a while, and there are a lot more teams struggling this year. That alone gives us the confidence to press on, and with such a young side, we know we really need to push away from the wrong end of the table. We need to be the top side in the bottom six or seven – it’s almost like a mini-league down there!
We’re expecting a tough test tonight from Dagenham, because of course they are down there too, and scrapping for their lives. They won at the weekend, so I’m sure that’ll give them confidence going into tonight’s game. We have to not let that bother us, and although it’s bound to be a scrappy and hard-fought game, we have to go into it with a positive attitude. We have a new threat in Ben up front and I’m sure they’ll be aware of him and his presence. He’s another option for us – on Saturday he showed how good he is in the air. Going forward we look dangerous, so really need to cause problems for the Dagenham defenders, but of course it will be a case of taking chances.
I’m aware at the moment that the fans come away from games as disappointed as us players, but we really need everyone to get behind us. We know we aren’t the worst, or even second worst side in the League and we can get out of it again – with the support of everyone at the ground. I’ve said it before, but the positivity and support during the game really do affect the lads on the pitch and can make all the difference so please continue to back us. By sticking together, we will turn it around, beginning tonight, which is a massive game for everybody concerned.
Enjoy the game”

Mark Hughes was talking to Lucy Waldon

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