Blackstones urged to bounce back after ‘worst performance’ of new management team’s reign
Co-boss Lee Clarke wants his Blackstones side to bounce back quickly and make amends for their worst performance of his managerial reign.
Stones travel to 14th-placed Thrapston on Saturday looking for a return to winning ways following their 4-1 defeat at Potton at the weekend.
Clarke admitted that he and joint boss Daniel French were disappointed with last Saturday’s showing as Stones tumbled to a second defeat in three United Counties League Division One games.
Clarke said: “It was probably our worst performance since we’ve been in charge.
“We lacked energy and tempo. Seven or eight players were just not at the races and, at any level of football, you’re always going to struggle if that happens.
“Potton were excellent though and Daniel Webb produced the best individual performance I’ve seen for a while at this level.”
Potton took the lead on the half-hour mark when a cross from the right was headed home by an unmarked Courtney Boughton who was able to pick his spot in the top right-hand corner.
Stones had been kept at bay in the opening period by a solid Royals back four, but they did respond within seven minutes of the restart as Jones De Sousa latched onto a forward pass on the edge of the box, rounded the keeper and lobbed the covering defender.
Parity was only retained for six minutes though before a mix-up in the Stones defence allowed Aaron Murrell to restore the hosts’ lead.
Murrell then added his second and Potton’s third shortly after following a scramble in the Blackstones six-yard box.
Webb then completed the home side’s scoring when Stones gave away possession cheaply and the winger ran to the edge of the box before firing home.
That was the 45th goal the seventh-placed Stones had conceded in 25 league games this season and Clarke wants his side to improve defensively.
He added: “We really need to sharpen up defensively because we’re conceding too many goals.
“Individually we’ve got good players, but we are not doing enough collectively as a defensive unit.
“We were scoring for fun earlier in the season, but we can’t be relying on scoring four or five goals every game to get us out of trouble.
“This Saturday is a good opportunity for us, but we need to make sure we have a better attitude and play with more tempo.
“There’s no easy games in this division, but hopefully we can go there and get three points.”
Joe Papworth returned to the Blackstones side at the weekend after a spell out injured while midfielder Andy Boome is available again for the Thrapston trip following a one-match suspension.
Stamford AFC Academy youngster Harry Peasgood could also feature for the Stones after impressing in his first start in the Boxing Day draw with Bourne.
Clarke continued: “He’s getting used to men’s football, but he has done well for us. He’s got a good attitude and he’s going to be a good player.”
Blackstones: Bellairs, Bates, Easson (Chambers), Pell, Wilmer,Papworth, Porter, Butler (Simpson), De Sousa, Clarke, Barker (Carter). Subs not used: Buttery, Hands.