11:15AM, Thursday 16 January 2020
James Comley believes the Magpies ‘lost themselves’ for a time earlier in the season which led to them being sucked closer to the National League relegation places.
The Magpies have prided themselves on being a resilient, tough outfit, and opposition managers have known their side would have to roll their sleeves up and fight for points against them at York Road or on their own turf.
However, York Road has been anything but a fortress for the Magpies this season.
United have one of the worst home records in the division, while only a bright start to the campaign – built mainly on their away results – has kept the club out of the bottom four.
But, in recent weeks – and following open and frank discussions with the management team – the Magpies have rediscovered their intensity and played well in games against Wrexham AFC, Notts County and Harrogate Town.
“I think the gaffer has said it, and we kind of realised it too, that we had lost our ourselves a bit,” said Comley.
“Sometimes that happens. Whether it’s due to trying something that looks good but isn’t really working.
“We just felt we weren’t working hard enough, both as a unit going forward and as a unit coming back. I think we’ve tried to get back to that in recent weeks and it’s worked better for us.
“Hopefully we’ll start to see some more clean sheets because that gives you the best chance of outscoring your opponents.”
They struggled to show that same industry in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Halesowen Town in the FA Trophy but Comley is confident they’ll have enough about them in next Tuesday’s replay to progress to the third round.
If they do they’ll visit Halifax Town on February 8, and they’ll get a taste of what to expect from that tie when they meet in the league at The Shay this Saturday.
“Halifax are a decent outfit,” said Comley. “For the last couple of seasons they’ve started out strong but this year they’re keeping their form a bit more.
“We’ll see what happens on Saturday but I feel, apart from a couple of teams that are showing more consistency, the rest of the teams can pretty much beat each other on their day.”
Looking ahead to the replay with Halesowen on Tuesday, Comley added: “They dealt a bit better with the conditions and it levelled the playing field a bit, but you can see they have a couple of really good players.
“I would be quite confident that we can get the job done.
“Not being disrespectful, if you want to go on and compete in a cup competition you need to be putting sides like this away.”
Jake Cassidy’s move to Stevenage this week caught many of the players by surprise, but Comley doesn’t feel the striker got the rewards his play deserved during his time at York Road. He's also backing his teammates to ensure the striker’s loss isn’t too keenly felt.
“Jake’s been one of those players who’s been unlucky for us,” he said.
“He’s done a lot more for us than he’s been rewarded for if that makes sense, in terms of goals.
“For us as a team we’ve got Danny (Whitehall) and Josh (Kelly) who can play through the centre and Aki (James Akintunde) can play there as well.
“The gaffer might try to bring in another player to replace Jake but every year people say ‘are they going to be able to replace this player?’ and the gaffer and the players already there have stepped up.”
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