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Blackstones target a return to winning ways in Division One of the United Counties League




Joint Blackstones boss Lee Clarke believes his side will have to go back to basics to boost confidence in the United Counties League side's camp.

Stones have won just one of their last eight Division One games and have dropped down to sixth place.

They are now 10 points adrift of their target of a top four finish and face two difficult away matches at Birstall and Burton Park Wanderers in their next outings.

Blackstones went down to a 2-0 home defeat against Harrowby on Saturday. Photo: Martin Davies (29028319)
Blackstones went down to a 2-0 home defeat against Harrowby on Saturday. Photo: Martin Davies (29028319)

Clarke admitted the confidence in his side is 'really low' with the division's second highest scorers failing to find the target in their last two games against Long Buckby and Harrowby.

He said: "We just look so short of confidence at the moment in everything that we do.

"We're not clicking on the ball when we're going forward or when we've got possession.

"When we go a goal behind in games then the outcome just looks to be a foregone conclusion.

"We are really low on confidence, especially when you're a side whose strength is the free-flowing football.

"It's only us who can change it though and maybe we have to get back to doing the simple things.

Blackstones went down to a 2-0 home defeat against Harrowby on Saturday. Photo: Martin Davies (29028313)
Blackstones went down to a 2-0 home defeat against Harrowby on Saturday. Photo: Martin Davies (29028313)

"In the last two games, we started well at Long Buckby and had 10 minutes before half-time against Harrowby but other than that we haven't looked like scoring.

"We've been productive for 20 minutes going forward in the last two games and you'll struggle to win games of football like that.

"In the past we've been having to score three or four goals to win games and, now we're not scoring, it's putting too much pressure on us defensively.

"We've only won once in eight games and, although we've played Long Buckby and Harrowby, there have been matches which we should have been winning against sides at the other end of the table.

"We've dropped points unfortunately and have fallen out of the pack.

"We're now in a position where we've just got to take the league table away, win as many games as we can and pick up as many points as we can and see what happens.

Blackstones went down to a 2-0 home defeat against Harrowby on Saturday. Photo: Martin Davies (29028311)
Blackstones went down to a 2-0 home defeat against Harrowby on Saturday. Photo: Martin Davies (29028311)

"The next two matches are both big games because all of a sudden those sides are near us in the table. We've put ourselves really under pressure.

"We were unbeaten for 19 games at the start of the season so we're capable of doing it. Hopefully we can get a couple of wins and the morale will lift again."

Stones fell behind after 15 minutes of Saturday's home clash with Harrowby at the ALH Recruitment Stadium.

A clinical shot from Alex Hales flew into the home net after an even opening which had seen both sides probe for a breakthrough.

Stones goalkeeper Aaron Bellairs smothered a long range shot to keep the deficit at one goal before his opposite number, Ricky Lovelace, used his face to deny one of his defenders an own goal.

The hosts pushed for an equaliser after the break with Joe Moore-Papworth seeing a header fly over the bar while Jones De Sousa was denied by a goalline clearance having rounded the keeper.

Blackstones went down to a 2-0 home defeat against Harrowby on Saturday. Photo: Martin Davies (29028323)
Blackstones went down to a 2-0 home defeat against Harrowby on Saturday. Photo: Martin Davies (29028323)

However, as Stones pushed for an equaliser, they were hit by Harrowby's second goal on the hour mark as Sam Thorpe rounded off a well-worked move.

Stones huffed and puffed but were not able to retrieve anything from the game as the seventh-placed Arrows move within two points of their hosts with two games in hand.

Stones: Bellairs, Easson, Bates (Simpson), Pell, Wilmer, Boome (Young), Cowles, Moore-Papworth, Edmondson (De Sousa), Clarke, Hughes. Sub not used: French.

Stones should have Liam Buttery and Lewis Morley back in contention for Saturday's trip to Birstall but Rob Hughes has decided to call time on his brief playing return.


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