ATTENTION was turned swiftly back to the league at Eastwood Town this week after their exit from the FA Trophy.
Saturday’s loss at AFC Telford United signalled the end of another cup run, but with 23 league games still to cram into the remainder of the season, there is plenty of scope for the Badgers to now climb the Blue Square North table.
Boss Paul Cox was disappointed to have lost Saturday’s tie, but refused to criticise his squad.
He said: “We started very well and had a couple of good opportunities early on, particularly when Adam Muller went through and forced a great save from the keeper.
“I felt that was something of a turning point because Telford then changed their formation to match ours - and I think it’s something of compliment when a home side is forced to do that - and we then couldn’t create as many openings.
“I also feel that we lacked the kind of dynamic approach that had served us so well in previous games, but I believe that’s partly down to having had a very tough game against Rushden a few days before as the players certainly seemed a bit tired after that.
“It was the nature of that game rather than the fact we’d played at all, in that it was a very intense encounter over 120 minutes, and even though we gave the lads Thursday’s training session off I think after about an hour on Saturday the fatigue started to show and there was a lack of impetus.
“But to be fair they kept plugging away and I think had we scored then a draw would have been fair, but even though we went to 4-4-2 later on it wasn’t to be.”
Only Gloucester City have played fewer games than Eastwood in the league, and a good run of form could see the Badgers climb the table quite rapidly.
And with performances of late having encouraged Cox, that’s precisely what he now expects to happen.
He said: “The team are no longer playing as individuals and instead are much more of a unit, and that has reflected in the performances over the last seven or eight games.
“We can’t rest on our laurels. I’ve had a few fans coming up to me and saying how well we’ve been playing and the chairman is happy too, so the onus is on us to keep that up.
“We’ve played some really entertaining stuff, though I’m keen to try and tighten up at the back a little because we’ve probably conceded a few too many goals. I’d still rather win a game 1-0 than 4-3 if I had a choice.”
Droylsden come to Coronation Park on Saturday, before Eastwood face the long trip to the Lake District to face Workington on Tuesday night.
Cox added: “They’re a really tough couple of games but we’ve every chance of winning them.
“Tuesday will obviously be tough in terms of the trip and so on, but the fact is it’s what we’re paid to do so won’t be complaining about it.”
Meanwhile, striker Lindon Meikle and defender David Haggerty are unlikely to be fit for the Droylsden game, the latter being injured at Telford in a game Meikle missed altogether.
“They’re both 50/50 but with so many games coming up I can’t justify risking them unless they’re absolutely ready, so I’d say it’s very unlikely they’ll figure on Saturday,” said Cox.
“I still may need to bring in a couple of new faces although given the budget there may have to be a departure to help fund that, but it’s important we have a squad capable of coping with the number of games we have still to play.”