DC: Make most of pivotal weekend
COUNTY boss Dave Challinor has urged his side to maximise a “pivotal” weekend in the League Two run-in, as an Easter double-header sees The Hatters looking to keep themselves in the promotion mix.
A Callum Hendry volley left County frustrated at Edgeley Park in a 1-1 draw with Salford City on Friday evening, keeping Challinor’s side four points off the automatic spots and now just three points inside the play-off positions.
A Connor Evans opener had got the hosts up and running in front of a sold out Edgeley Park crowd, but both sides ultimately settled for a point as the League Two run-in continues at pace.
Paddy Madden did stroke the post soon after Evans’ opener, with Challinor left to rue a big opportunity for his side to potentially seal all three points.
“It was a decent game. High intensity. Two good teams battled it out, and ultimately once it went to 1-1 both sides wanted to win – but not at the behest of losing,” said Challinor.
“Paddy is close to putting us two up, and I’d really fancy us from there. It’s tough – we turned up to win the game, but you also have to credit the opposition when they turn up and make things difficult.”
Following Hendry’s leveller early in the second half, Madden was replaced again for the hosts whilst continuing his comeback from injury, with County failing to register any real noteworthy chances for the remainder of the half.
Challinor explained the decision to again withdraw the Hatters skipper, but did admit that the move “didn’t materialise” as his side looked to wrestle back control of the affair in the second half.
“It was just to get some control. We didn’t have much control in the second half,” he said.
“It didn’t materialise but we thought we could potentially hurt them by doing that. We didn’t move the ball well enough - Salford are excellent at that.”
The draw ended a mixed bag of a month for Challinor’s
side, who finished March unbeaten – but ultimately, perhaps, left wanting more after four stalemates at Edgeley Park.
“We’d have taken being unbeaten in March, but you look back at not being able to break down two pragmatic sides, and the late goal for Mansfield,” he said. “Yes there’s a frustration on the lack of goals being scored at the minute, but it’s not for the want of trying.
“I know for certain that it is not anything we’ve changed in terms of system or approach.”
When pressed on any potential reasons for County’s recent dip in front of goal – with just four scored four scored in the last seven – Challinor did suggest his side had become “a bit safe” as the tension of the run-in takes hold.
“We are a bit safe as of late, but we want the players to have that freedom. At the same time, you have to compliment opposition on what they do,” he said.
“We have more big games to come with the trip to Sutton this Friday. I’ve watched Sutton this weekend and we know all about their qualities. Easter is usually a period of the season where things can take a turn with two games in quick succession.
“We are highly motivated to go and win the game, and to maximise our return over the weekend.”
The trip to Sutton on Friday is followed by the visit of Newport County to Edgeley Park on Monday afternoon.