Attacking switch has put Oakham on the offensive
Oakham United boss Ryan Hunnings wants his side to go out with all guns blazing in their final eight matches of the United Counties League campaign.
The Rutlanders have taken four points from their last two Division One games after a change in formation helped snap a six-match losing streak.
They defeated S&L Corby 3-0 on Saturday before bagging a point on Wednesday night in a 1-1 home draw with Burton Park Wanderers who equalised with a controversial late spot kick.
And it’s the change in his side’s attacking policy that Hunnings feels will stand them in good stead for the remainder of the campaign.
He said: “We’ve changed the way we play to become more attacking. We’re playing with wing-backs and trying to work on something with the lads to take into next season.
“We’ve changed the formation instead of trying to soak up the pressure and get a goal because that wasn’t working for us.
“We play on the front foot now. We want to win the ball high up the pitch and pressure teams which seems to be working for us.”
The changes looked to have set Oakham on their way to a second successive victory on Wednesday night.
Cameron Brookes headed home a cross from wing-back Steve Jucikas five minutes into the second period to put Oakham in control of the contest.
However, Burton Park were awarded a contenscious penalty with three minutes remaining that Mark Forbes dispatched.
Hunnings commented: “I was gutted to concede so late on, especially as it was the softest penalty I’ve seen given all season.
“Their lad is backing in and then gone over when our defender puts his arms out. The screams from every single Burton player were probably a factor in the referee’s decision as well.
“It’s frustrating and we were all so disappointed afterwards, but we’ve taken four points from the last two games and we’d happily have taken that a few weeks ago.
“The lads have taken on board what we’ve been asking of them and they’ve started to play some really good stuff.
“Defensively we were brilliant on Wednesday night and didn’t deserve to concede. We just missed a couple of good chances which was disappointing because on another day they would have gone in.”
Oakham’s plans suffered a setback before kick-off when striker Michael Nelson was ruled out with a groin injury.
They were then hit by another blow just before half-time when play-maker Tiago Camilo suffered a reoccurence of a knee ligament injury that will now rule him out for the rest of the season.
He was replaced by recent recruit Dillian Chipunza, who is dual registered with Peterborough League side Sawtry.
Oakham did make the most of the running during the contest and looked on course for victory when Brookes bagged his second goal of the season.
And, despite the blow of conceding from the late spot kick, they still created a couple of decent chances before Burton broke in injury-time and Oakham were indebted to goalkeeper Mark King making a fantastic save to help preserve a point.
Oakham travel to fifth-placed Lutterworth Town on Saturday before a midweek match on Wednesday against Pinchbeck at Spalding’s Sir Halley Stewart ground.
Both matches will be tough tests for Oakham, but Hunnings feels his side are well equipped to cope with what the league’s leading lights will throw at them.
He said: “It’s a big blow to lose Tiago, but Sawtry don’t have a game at the weekend so Dillian will be available and we’re hoping that Nelly (Michael Nelson) will be alright as well.
“We played the better football against Burton on Wednesday night. It was short, sharp passing which was good to see.
“We’ve got a lot of pace up top as well and look really good going forward.”