NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: March Town chief calls for a big reaction in huge games
PUBLISHED: 13:01 19 December 2019 | UPDATED: 13:01 19 December 2019
March Town boss Brett Whaley has called on his players to provide the right response in their biggest games of the season.
The Hares' promotion hopes in Thurlow Nunn League First Division North were hit by a surprise 3-2 defeat at Cornard United last Saturday.
The setback in Suffolk meant March slid out of the top four to sixth position ahead of two crucial clashes to end 2019.
They host second-placed Mulbarton Wanderers at the GER this Saturday, 3pm, ahead of a trip to current table-toppers Downham Town the following Saturday.
"We wanted to be going into the big games either side of Christmas on a high with another win, but sadly we have lost the momentum we were building," said Whaley.
"We've now lost as many games as we did in the whole of last season and we're not even at the halfway stage yet.
"That's obviously not going to help us in trying to win promotion, but we have to focus on what lies ahead.
"We have to ensure we are ready to be at our best on the next two Saturdays as we need to pick up something from both games.
"Two positive results will probably get us back into the top four at the turn of the year whereas a couple of poor results would really hurt us.
"We've not lost back-to-back league games in the last season and a half and we cannot allow that to happen now either if we are serious about getting promoted.
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"The boys have to react in the right way and be at their best."
A Craig Gillies penalty and leading scorer Jack Friend's 27th goal of the season put the Hares in command at Cornard inside half-an-hour.
But the Suffolk hosts began their fightback on the stroke of half-time and then levelled midway through the second half following a goalkeeping error from Hares number one Charlie Congreve.
That leveller arrived less than a minute after recent signing Dylan Edge squandered a gilt-edged chance to stretch March's lead at the other end.
But Cornard were in the ascendancy and completed a fine comeback with a third goal from a deflected free-kick to take the points.
"It was a bad day all round," said Whaley.
"We left late due to the Cornard pitch needing to pass an inspection and then had a nightmare journey.
"Myself and a couple of the players - Gav Cooke and Adam Rothery - didn't make it until 2.50pm and that only gave us 25 minutes to get ready even though the kick-off was delayed to 3.15pm.
"But the reality was we overcame the poor preparation to put ourselves into a position to the win the game only to then allow it to slip away.
"We couldn't play the football we like to produce on a really boggy surface and against physical opponents.
"But we ended up flat and we didn't dig deep enough when things were going against us."