04:00PM, Friday 16 August 2019
Having finally got their campaign up and running with a well-earned point against Weymouth on Tuesday, joint manager Neil Baker is hopeful the Rebels will break their duck by picking up their first win at Maidstone United tomorrow (Saturday).
The Rebels were by no means perfect against the Terras at Arbour Park and had to see out the final 15 minutes with only 10 men after Francis Amartey was sent off. But their performance was much more like the Slough of last season.
Baker and Jon Underwood’s side were beaten 2-1 at Concord Rangers on Saturday, but it was the manner of the loss which so disappointed the management team and they were delighted to see a reaction to it midweek.
Abdulai Baggie pounced to put Weymouth ahead but Ben Harris levelled matters from the penalty spot after Matt Lench was bundled over in the box. Harris also netted in the defeat at Concord.
“We just felt we should have had more about us at Concord,” admitted Baker.
“Yes, we had injuries but the team was still more than good enough to have gone there and got a result.
“I just felt they worked harder than us, and by some distance, which was disappointing.
“Tuesday night was a lot better, not perfect by any means but it was a hard-working performance against a very good side.
“We’ve not had a lot of luck this season, and going down to 10 men made things difficult but we put in a shift and got a point to get us off the mark.”
Baker hopes Amartey will learn from his needless dismissal against the Terras but, with players now returning from injury, he’s hopeful his suspension won’t be felt too keenly.
“Hopefully we can push on now and get a few wins,” he said.
“In this league everyone is going to beat everyone so we’ve just got to try and get ourselves on a couple of little runs like we did last season.
“Francis’ challenge wasn’t malicious but it was a bit reckless. He could have passed the ball but he’s a young guy and he’ll learn from it.
“Josh Jackman is very close and might make the bench on Saturday. Simon Dunn will return next week and now we’ve got Sean Fraser, Sam Togwell and Dan Roberts back as well.
“Dan was our best striker in pre-season. He’s got bags of confidence and ability and, if he keeps working hard and listening, he’s got a great chance here. I thought he and Ben (Harris) were excellent on Tuesday.”
Tomorrow’s hosts Maidstone kicked off their campaign with a couple of defeats but managed to get their first win under their belts at Hungerford Town on Saturday.
“They’re a full-time team with some very good players and an experienced management team,” added Baker.
“Having John Still there is a massive coup for them.
“It won’t be an easy game and there will be close to 2,000 there but it’s a great game to be involved in.
“If we could break our duck there it would give us lots of confidence.”
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