Oakham aiming to finish with a flourish after breaking barren run
Oakham United boss Ryan Hunnings wants his side to finish the season with a flourish after they finally discovered the winning feeling.
The Rutlanders recorded their first United Counties League Division One victory since the end of August with a 3-0 home success over S&L Corby on Saturday.
It was Hunnings’ first win at the Lonsdale Meadow helm since taking over as manager at the beginning of November.
And the Oakham boss has now set his charges - who host Burton Park Wanderers on Wednesday night - a victory target for the final quarter of the season.
Hunnings said: “We go into the rest of the games with a bit more confidence and our tails are up now.
“I said before the Corby game that I wanted four wins from the last 10 games because we now have a brilliant squad with brilliant commitment.
“It might sound ambitious and be a heavy target, but we’ve got several games against teams close to us and the players have bought into what we’re asking of them.
“There was a real change in training last week. The whole squad was there. We were able to work on the formation and we looked a well drilled side on Saturday.
“It was a brilliant performance and I couldn’t fault any of it - apart from not converting enough of our chances!”
A double strike from recent returnee Michael Nelson set Oakham on their way to victory with talented teenager Scott Waumsley completing the win late on.
Hunnings enthused: “It was fantastic to get my first victory - I’d almost forgotten how it felt to win.
“I’ve got the monkey off my back. You do start doubting everything that you do because the pressure was on to get that first win.
“My last win in management came against S&L Corby (Hunnings was joint manager of Huntingdon in their 1-0 away success over the Foundrymen in October) so it would be good to play them every week!”
It was the visitors who had the best chance of the opening exchanges on Saturday, but Corey Taylor came up with a crucial clearance off the line following an S&L corner.
This give Oakham the lift they needed to mount a series of attacks of their own and they missed several chances to open the scoring before Nelson headed home a Cameron Brookes cross two minutes before half-time.
Hunnings explained: “We should have been three up at half-time, but getting the goal was a killer blow because they came out for the second half deflated.
“It was a really good goal and helped us because we were a little bit edgy and I didn’t want us coming into half-time thinking we had let them off the hook.”
Oakham again continued to create the better chances after the break but were unable to find a way past an inspired S&L goalkeeper until Nelson doubled the lead when he raced clear on the hour mark and finished off the one-on-one.
The hosts then rounded off the victory with 15 minutes remaining with their best goal of the game as Waumsley reacted superbly to produce a brilliant finish from Nelson’s centre.
Hunnings added: “We had built a defensive wall in the second half and were creating chance after chance.
“Michael Nelson has made a massive difference to us. He’s a quality player and his signing has been a real God send.
“He takes a lot of pressure off young Scott Waumsley and Tiago Camilo who is coming back from a bad injury.”
Oakham travel to fifth-placed Lutterworth Town on Saturday before visiting champions-elect Pinchbeck United next Wednesday (March 28).
Hunnings commented: “We tend to play well against the top teams. We have got a United Counties League squad now so we will go into both games expecting to compete.
“The commitment is there from the lads with the amount of players available for every game. There is a real buzz at the moment.”