Hunnings hopes Oakham can end on a high
Oakham United boss Ryan Hunnings is urging his side to finish their season on a high.
The Rutlanders bring the curtain down on their United Counties League Division One campaign with a home match against Bugbrooke on Saturday which is then followed by a derby duel against Melton Town on Tuesday.
Oakham have won two of their last four matches following Saturday’s 2-1 home success over Thrapston.
And Hunnings is hoping they can avenge two disappointing defeats from earlier in the campaign against their final two opponents. They were beaten 6-2 at home by Melton while suffering a 3-0 away reversal recently at Bugbrooke.
Hunnings said: “We were awful in the home game against Melton, but it was probably the turning point of our season. It was the kick-start the lads needed.
“We were so slow against Bugbrooke recently. We’d had a lot of games in a short period which probably effected us.
“But we’re looking to finish on a high. I set the lads a target of four wins from the last 10 games. We’ve got three wins and a draw and I want to go out and get two more wins.
“The lads have really responded after we set them their goal. We’re showing the form of a mid-table side and we’re no longer the whipping boys and that will help when we look at attracting players for next season.
“The lads deserve all the credit and me and my assistant AJ Carr are already looking forward to next season.”
Goalkeeper Tom Bedford is unavailable for Saturday’s match so Liam Noble will deputise with Mark King having had a knee operation. Denis Moran is also missing from the Oakham ranks.
Oakham overcame a nightmare build-up to Saturday’s home clash with Thrapston to record their second win from their last four United Counties League games.
Boss Hunnings had a full-strength 16-player squad available on Friday night for the Division One fixture at Lonsdale Meadow.
But five players – including three of the starting line-up – dropped out on the morning match, leaving the Oakham manager to draft in a trio of reserve team players.
However, a goal each in the opening period from Cameron Brookes and Nathan Arkle, ensured Oakham’s fortunes continue to take a turn for the better.
Hunnings said: “It’s so frustrating when players drop out, but the lads who made themselves available turned up and smashed it.
“It was a good performance and I couldn’t fault any of the lads. We’re looking more like a mid-table side now than one which is near the bottom.
“The most positive thing for me though was that the players who came in were able to slot into the system we use so we didn’t have to change too much. The players knew what was expected of them.
“Stew Lambie dropped back into centre-half for the first time since his sending off at Huntingdon and he was man-of-the-match.
“He played really well while the likes of Scott Nottingham, who hasn’t featured too much, had positive games.”
Oakham seized the initiative after both sides had made a slow start to the contest to break the deadlock through Brookes.
Arkle flicked on a long throw and Brookes pounced to score after a scramble in the Thrapston box.
The goal boosted Oakham and their promising play was rewarded when the powerful Arkle headed home a Lambie corner.
But, after getting themselves in a commanding position, Oakham took their foot of the gas and Kaine Clinton halved the deficit five minutes before the break.
Hunnings added: “We went to sleep just before half-time and let them back into the game. We thought the job was done which was really frustrating.
“But we kept going in the second half and, although they threw the kitchen sink at us, we defended really well and Tom Bedford only really had two critical saves to make.
“The lads dealt with everything superbly and we never looked like letting the lead slip away.”