United manager Gary Johnson is eager for his side to bounce back at the first attempt after tasting defeat for the first time in 17 league games.
“We’ve been on a terrific run, and of course we were all disappointed” said Johnson, reflecting on last weekend’s 3-2 loss to Bath City.
“I think you’re even more disappointed when you’ve had a really good run and then got beaten, especially when you could have won the game. We didn’t play well and nearly snuck through, but it wasn’t to be”
Although losing the match was a blow, Johnson has used this week as an opportunity to ensure his players remain focused on the prize at stake.
“It just means we’ve got to refocus, it gives me an opportunity again to review the lads individually as well as collectively, just to make sure we don’t drop below any standard if we’re going to win the league.”
The bumper crowd at Twerton Park made for a raucous atmosphere, and Johnson feels that learning the lessons from the loss will stand United’s players in good stead for the challenges ahead.
“You tend to know the characters anyway and the personalities, you know which ones need an extra gee-up. It was a big game and I classed it as a bit of a cup final, because we could have put paid to their challenge and dealt with one other challenge possibly. Some didn’t handle that so I did learn a little bit about a few of them, but they learned a little bit about me. They learned a little bit about what it takes to be champions of any division that you’re playing in.”
Johnson has stated on many occasions before of his aim to win promotion as champions, rather than via the play-offs, however the Gaffer has every eventuality covered in his pursuit of winning a place in the National League next season.
“The important thing about the play-offs is that you’ve got to make sure you’re second in the league if you’re not first, just because of the fact that you end up with two home games if you get through – that would be fantastic for us anyway. If we had a crystal ball that would be best way to go through, but we haven’t and we really don’t want to go down that route if we can help it. It would be nice to be sunning ourselves at the beginning of May, rather than the middle of May”
United’s manager will certainly not be taking our opponents lightly. Oxford will be relishing the opportunity to become the first team this season to complete a league ‘double’ over the Gulls, following their victory over previous boss Gary Owers’ side back in August.
“I don’t think there’s any pushovers in this league because it’s all relative. We’re not a sort of Manchester City team playing four levels lower, we are where we are because of the reasons we all know about, so we are at this level. We’ve got to make sure that every team we look at, we’ve got to see the dangers of, and we’ve got to know all their strengths and their weaknesses. Everybody, including us, have got strengths and weaknesses, that’s why teams are playing at this level. You’ve got to acknowledge it, and I’ve got to try to keep the lads going and make sure we’re the fittest we can be, mentally and physically, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Johnson reported that he has a full squad to chose from, with no injuries reported following last week’s match.
“We’ve got a clean bill of health which is good. It’s a small squad but at this moment it’s a fit squad.”
National League South | Torquay United Vs Oxford City | 26/01/19 | Plainmoor | 3pm KO | For more info on Oxford City click here | If this is your first visit to Plainmoor click here | To purchase in advance click here