06:00PM, Thursday 18 November 2021
Sam Barratt. Photo George Tewkesbury
Sam Barratt is urging his teammates to come together in the coming weeks and work hard for each other as they bid to bounce back from heavy defeats to FC Halifax Town and Dagenham & Redbridge.
Having picked up much-needed victories over Wrexham and Woking last month the Magpies have hit another sticky patch in the season, conceding 11 goals in their last two games.
Manager Alan Devonshire felt there were reasons for the side's 7-4 FA Cup loss at Halifax, but he'll be less forgiving of the defensive blunders which characterised Saturday's sloppy display against the Daggers.
The most frustrating thing for him and the players is that they were well in contention for much of the first half before losing focus in the run up to half-time.
Josh Kelly scored to briefly lift spirits and raise the prospect of a comeback, but those hopes were quickly extinguished as Angelo Balanta completed his hat-trick in a 4-1 win.
It was tough for the Magpies to take after they'd made a bright start to the game and created some good chances.
The side's eighth defeat of the season leaves them looking nervously over their shoulders in 19th place, ahead of Saturday's difficult looking test at second placed Boreham Wood.
However, Barratt is confident the squad will come together and show they're better than their form this season would suggest.
“There’s been a lot of inconsistency from us this year,” said Barratt. “If we’re being honest though, we know we’ve got a better squad and should be getting better results.
“The league this year is very competitive, and a lot of clubs have invested a lot.
“There’s going to be ups and downs for us, but we’ve just got to try and solidify our defence and work as a unit to try and stop the number of goals we’ve been conceding in recent weeks.”
He added: “I saw the Torquay manager say the National League should be classed as League 3 and I don’t disagree with that.
“It’s a tough league and teams have been doing a lot of recruitment, taking players from League 1 and 2 sides, and not just squad players, but captains.
“They’ve been making big statements, but there’s nothing wrong with the way we go about things, and we know we’re competitive as a team.
“We’re near enough to full-time now, training just a day less, so I believe we should be doing better with the squad we’ve got.”
Barratt knows Saturday's performance wasn't good enough, from back to front, but he also believes in the character of the players and the spirit of the squad.
He also believes results will improve as soon as they're able to put a more consistent side out, with the defence in particular having been chopped and changed around due to injury.
“We’re better than that and we know it,” he said. “Going forward we’ve got to do a little more as well. As a squad, a collective, we’ve got to dig in deep and improve. There have been some individual errors that we need to cut out, but the whole team participates in defending and as forwards we’ve got to start that by pressing properly.
“It’s a team game and if one person is off, it has a knock-on effect on everyone. We’ve all got to get with it and get to the races a bit more.
“It has been tough with injuries though. George Wells was consistently playing last year but he’s been in and out of the side. We’ve had four or five right backs this year because players have been struggling with injuries and Will de Havilland has also been in and out and swapping with Manny Parry, so having that inconsistency in the line-up doesn’t help and it’s no one’s fault. We’ve just got to get that bit of luck and have a break with injuries.”
Saturday's hosts Boreham Wood are flying high in second, just a point off the top, however, Barratt sees them as a great example for a club like Maidenhead in terms of how they operate with limited resources.
“Boreham Wood don’t have the fan base of some of the other clubs, but they’re a prime example of getting a small, solid squad together and being consistent from front to back.
“They’ve been able to grind out a lot of wins this season and we know that we can do the same. It’s a tough game but we always seem to perform well against good opposition, and we won there last year so have good omens going into the game. We can take confidence from parts of our performance against Dagenham because in the first half we played some of our best football all season. We were in control and creating a lot. That’s the way football goes sometimes, but we’ve got to create our own luck.”