11:59AM, Friday 10 January 2020
Tiredness, illness and injury caught up with the Rebels during Saturday’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Eastbourne Borough, as the side’s hectic fixture list over Christmas and New Year began to take its toll on the players.
Joint manager Jon Underwood admitted afterwards the players were out on their feet at the end and desperately needed the support of the Arbour Park crowd which, at times he felt, wasn’t forthcoming.
Neither side really deserved to win the game, after Scott Davies’ wonder goal from inside his own half was cancelled out by Kane Wills’ low drive in the second half, and Underwood said it wasn’t just the players who were flat on a frustrating afternoon.
“We’re disappointed,” he said afterwards. “It was a little bit flat today.
“Some players were missing through illness and some others played through illness.
“We looked tired and it wasn’t a great game. They had their chances and we had some chances but neither side really deserved to win over the 90 minutes.
“We needed a little lift from the supporters but the ground was a bit like a morgue at times today. It’s a shame because we’re still in a great position and having a great season.
“It seems like we need to win every week otherwise that (great support) doesn’t continue.”
Underwood and Neil Baker will be looking for the fans to ramp up their support tomorrow’s (Saturday) trip to Billericay, when the Rebels will take on a side who are undefeated on home soil this season.
Jamie O’Hara’s side are also heading into the clash off the back of a morale-boosting 3-1 win over league leaders Wealdstone. Underwood and Baker are expecting a tough clash but say there’s no reason why they can’t go there and win.
Underwood added: “We could do with a win. The disappointment is that we had that brilliant day on Boxing Day (when the Rebels beat Wealdstone 2-1) and haven’t been able to push on from there.
“You get high points and low points in a season and we’re just having a week when things haven’t gone for us in terms of results.
“We don’t want it to continue much longer and there’s no reason why we can’t go and get a win next week.”
The Rebels remain handily placed to achieve their goal of finishing in the play-offs, sitting fourth in the table only eight points behind the Stones with a game in hand. But they’ve picked up just two points from three matches and sides beneath them are starting to close the gap.
An illness bug has swept through the camp in the past week or so, leaving them short of options for Saturday’s game against Eastbourne and with only two fit players on the bench.
Sean Fraser and Joe Grant were both brought on in the second half but the hosts needed more attacking options as they looked to sneak a late winner.
“I think if we’d stayed in front it wouldn’t have been a problem,” added Underwood.
“But when they got back and equalised the onus was on us to try and win the game. We pushed Birdy up front and he caused them some problems but we weren’t able to get on the end of the balls and knock downs.
“Neither side was at their fluent best and both teams looked a little bit jaded. It’s four games in 10 days and we haven’t got a big squad. A lot of those players have played in all of those games so we kind of half expected it wouldn’t be a classic today.
“Having taken the lead it was about whether we could see the game out, but we defended very poorly for their goal. It was a great finish but we were caught very high up the pitch and made it far too easy for them to get in behind us.
“At half-time we were thinking can we hold on and get a scruffy 1-0 win, and we’d have been delighted with that.”
The players were set to return to training last night (Thursday) as they regroup and convalesce ahead of their trip to Essex tomorrow.
“We’ve told them all to go home until Thursday,” Underwood said on Saturday. “We’ve tried to keep the sick ones away from the well ones but, in a group of 20 people, there are going to be some who are ill at this time of year.
“We’re a bit flat but we have to
remind ourselves of the season we’re having and where we are in the table.”
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