Tony Russell has spoken ahead our huge clash tomorrow as we head to third-placed Hornchurch.
It comes after what Tony described as “two points lost” against Billericay last week, and he reflects on the 1-1 draw.
“The game against Billericay panned out exactly how we expected it to. The opening 10 minutes, I think they tried to play from the back but they soon put it away.
“After that it turned into how most teams come to us and do, they go long and look to sit back, and catch us on the counter.
“We spoke about their individual brilliance in their front three, the pace, the quality, the quality in midfield, and we saw that.
We obviously controlled the ball but they were a threat on the counter, whenever we got sloppy with passes. That happened a couple of times, especially in the first-half.
“For the rest of the time we were camped in their half, controlling the game, we thought we would get threat from Gondoh and we did. The pull-back onto the penalty spot, he did that three times.
“Pritch had a free shot, no one around him, and he put it over. Hydey had two, coming onto the ball, one he’s hit the post, the other he’s sort of kicked his own foot.
“Gondoh came inside, hit the post, we generally got in good areas. We were disappointed only to be one up at half-time despite them threatening a couple of times. We had enough opportunities though, even ones that didn’t result in chances, we got in great areas.”
Billericay had chances of their own in the game but Tony was disappointed in the manner we conceded.
“Half-time 1-0 up, all we spoke about was we didn’t believe Billericay could come through us. I didn’t believe they could build up and come through us.
“What I did believe was, they could score a goal if we’re sloppy and the ball turns over, that was obvious. I normally tell them to express themselves but Billericay was not a game to do that.
“Be patient with the ball, sustain possession, pin them in, and unfortunately we didn’t do that second-half, we forced passes, Alf drove with the ball and drilled it right into their full-back. That kind of set the tone for the rest of the game, we had sporadic attacks rather than sustained ones.
“Their goal was so disappointing. I was so upset by it because the ball’s turned over from them, we’ve robbed them, we’re breaking, it’s 5v4 in our favour, Gondoh running down the line, Johnville underlaps him and the pass to him is under-hit which means we have five running past the ball.
“They’ve recycled it out wide, hit a cross and it’s 1-1. So it’s so disappointing. It’s a good goal from their perspective but we literally spoke for 15 minutes about if we were sloppy with our passing that’s the only way they’ll get back in the game.
“Tactically just wasn’t good enough second-half. They carried a threat which made it interesting, but we just wasn’t good enough. I felt it was two points dropped. We did a video session on it and all we can do is move onto the next one.”
We head to Hornchurch tomorrow in the first of two big games over the next week and Tony knows what a task ahead it is.
“We go to Hornchurch away which on paper is probably as tough as it gets. Brilliant side, and if you finish above them you’re winning the league.
“Their manager has won pretty much everything in non-league football. Got Gillingham promoted to League One.
“The goalscoring charts in our league the top three are, Sam Higgins, Ade Yussuf and Joe Taylor. Hornchurch went and got Ade from Folkestone on a paid transfer so there’s very few clubs in our league that would have the backing to do that.
“It shows you their intent and their seriousness, having the two top scorers in the league playing in one side.
“That tells you how hard a task it’s going to be. Historically their pitch isn’t the best, they share it with an athletics team as well which doesn’t help.
“But you’ve got to find a way that’s what I said to them, you can’t play on good pitches all the time, we’ve worked on what we can do to negate that.
“They have a fantastic home record and we have to go there believing we can win. I certainly believe that and I hope the players do. The next two weeks are massive, we have them and then Enfield, who are up there as well.
“We’ve got to get this momentum going. I said to Vinesy, we need a big result, we need this spark to get the momentum going and have our final push for the season.
“It’s a big game and we’re going there to win. We have to have that mindset. The task is going to be a big one but I’m excited about it and hopefully the players are.”
Photo credit: James Boyes.