Wins over Dart­ford won't be an ad­van­tage in play-offs, says Baker

Slough Town FC: Baker not putting 'any em­pha­sis' on pre­vi­ous re­sults be­tween the two teams this sea­son

Windsor & Eton Express - - Front Page -

The Rebels have beaten Dart­ford twice this sea­son, but joint boss Neil Baker doesn’t be­lieve

that will give the side any psy­cho­log­i­cal ad­van­tage go­ing into their Na­tional League South play-off tie on Sun­day week.

The Rebels have beaten Dart­ford twice this sea­son – com­ing from two goals down to se­cure a 3-2 win in a thriller at Princes Park in Septem­ber be­fore edg­ing them out 1-0 at home thanks to a Dan Roberts goal in Jan­uary. But joint man­ager Neil Baker doesn’t be­lieve that will give the side any psy­cho­log­i­cal ad­van­tage go­ing into their Na­tional League South play-off elim­i­na­tor at Ar­bour Park on Sun­day week (July 19, 3pm kick-off).

Look­ing ahead to the tie, Baker said you couldn’t ‘com­pletely rip up’ what’s gone be­fore, but ad­mit­ted pre­vi­ous form is likely to count for very lit­tle when the sides walk out against each other in just over a week’s time.

The Rebels re­turned to group train­ing on Satur­day and were set to play their first full-con­tact foot­ball in an in-house train­ing game last night (Thurs­day). They also have a friendly match set up against Brack­ley Town of the Na­tional League North to­mor­row (Satur­day).

The play­ers have re­turned in good con­di­tion and are look­ing rea­son­ably sharp, given their lack of foot­ball over the past three and a half months, and – while Baker ad­mits it’s go­ing to be dif­fi­cult – he be­lieves they’ve got just as good a chance as any team to get pro­moted.

“I think you could lit­er­ally pick the team out of a hat,” he said.

“I don’t think any form will come into it be­cause no one is in any form.

“It’s go­ing to be dif­fi­cult, I won’t lie. I think we’re in a rea­son­ably good po­si­tion in terms of the squad and they’re very to­gether, but then so are a num­ber of the other sides.

“We’ve got as much chance as any­one else in this. I know Wey­mouth and Ha­vant have the ad­van­tage of hav­ing one less game to play, but you could ar­gue that play­ing one ex­tra game gives you a slight ad­van­tage in these play-offs. Nor­mally you’re go­ing into the play-offs off the back of a re­ally tough sea­son, you’re shat­tered, and you’re hav­ing to play on a Wed­nes­day night be­fore go­ing some­where on the Satur­day to play a team that’s had a week’s rest. That’s nor­mally a big ad­van­tage and we don’t have to do that this time which is a pos­i­tive.

“But first of all we just have to think about get­ting past Dart­ford.

“Dart­ford were in bril­liant form, but we beat them twice this sea­son, once with Steve King as man­ager and once with­out.

“I al­ways look back to pre­vi­ous play­off cam­paigns and in the one be­fore we got pro­moted, we lost to Leam­ing­ton, hav­ing beaten them 6-0 and 2-0 dur­ing the sea­son. So I don’t put any em­pha­sis on the fact that we’ve beaten

Dart­ford this sea­son. That’s com­pletely gone, as is form.

“Both teams will ob­vi­ously want it on the day but it’s about the side who falls into the game quicker.”

Baker ex­pects the shape of the Dart­ford side to be sim­i­lar to ear­lier this sea­son, but ad­mits you can’t even take that for granted af­ter such a long lay off. He says there’s no point in fo­cus­ing on the op­po­si­tion, be­cause there’s very lit­tle in­for­ma­tion to be gath­ered on the Darts at present. In­stead they'll fo­cus on pre­par­ing the Rebels as best they can to win the tie.

“You’d ex­pect team shapes to be sim

ilar to what they were play­ing in the sea­son,” he said. “I don’t think you can com­pletely rip that up, but you never know, and that’s the dif­fer­ence.

“You’ve got no way of get­ting in­for­ma­tion in that re­spect and all you can do is pre­pare your own play­ers and hope for the best.

“For the win­ners it might help play­ing a quar­ter fi­nal tie. But, if we win, we’d have to go to Ha­vant and that’s an ex­tremely tough game. We’ve not scored there this sea­son and were 2-0 down in the aban­doned game and then lost 1-0 there and we didn’t cre­ate loads of chances either.”

Baker also promised that the tie with Dart­ford will be streamed for fans, but at present it’s still un­clear who will be pro­vid­ing that ser­vice. The game is set to kick-off at 3pm on Sun­day, July 19.

“It will be streamed but I think at the mo­ment we’re not sure who’s go­ing to be do­ing it,” he added.

“There’s talk of BT stream­ing a ser­vice, the Na­tional League stream­ing a ser­vice or us (through FC Video) stream­ing a ser­vice. I don’t know who, or what the de­tails will be, but it will 100 per cent be streamed so sup­port­ers will get the op­por­tu­nity to watch it.”

Dan Roberts scored the game's only goal when Slough Town hosted Dart­ford in the league in Jan­uary. The Rebels have beaten their play-off ri­vals twice this sea­son but man­ager Neil Baker says that won't count for any­thing in next week's elim­i­na­tor.

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