Vanarama National League South
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Club Reporter Liam Drury spoke to manager Marc McGregor looking back at the past month of fixtures.

December’s been another tough month for you. You’ve got one win in the league against Chippenham. How do you assess the past month?
Again, against Bath, we played a team where they had five at the back to stop us playing, which worked for them. Two set plays cost us today, but overall we should have beaten Gloucester, we were the better side there, the ball wasn’t dropping for us there, and how we haven’t scored is beyond me. Against Bath, it was a bit different, they come at us a little bit more but if we deal with the set plays, the second one was a fluke and the first one, we should have dealt with better, then there’s nothing in the game. With some of the chances we had, we should have taken them as well. We aren’t a million miles away, and losing Matt Bower meant that we had to swing the squad around a little bit and with injuries, it’s made it tough.

Image: Will. T. Photography

Beating Chippenham away 1 – 3, do you think it could have been a turning point in our season?
It still can be. We go to Gloucester, it’s going to be a tough game, we go and get three points there, we claw ourselves back towards the other teams. There’s a lot of points to play for, we need to start turning it around, we’re looking at personnel and bringing in a couple because we need to strengthen with bodies at the back. We know that we’re in a tough position and that we need to fight for it, and today I thought we did. We battled all the way through, they were brave on the ball, we passed it better, we carved them open. Even when down to ten and nine men, we still passed the ball better than they did and they gave it us back and we tried to attack. But when you’re up against that number of bodies, it’s hard to break a team down with five at the back and with just two attacking. It’s a tough month, but let’s hope the New Year brings a bit of fortune to us.

Do you see Gloucester being the biggest game of your season now?
Each game we step into now is a big game and I don’t really want to use the term, but a cup final. Gloucester’s no different and that will be an important three points. As we go onto Billericay, it’ll be an important three points. Every game we play is going to be very important from now on because we need to pick up as many points as we can. Yes, we want to play the right way because that’s the philosophy and yes, we’ve had to lose a couple of players so it makes it tough, but we can still do it and if I didn’t believe we could do it, I’d be worried but I believe I’ve got the personnel to do it.

Image: Will. T. Photography

Is losing Matt Bower a big loss to you?
Yeah, if we have Matt, then we probably deal with the first one against Bath. The second one, probably similar, just a long throw. It’s the difference. They just pounded the ball into Robbie Cundy, who’s tall, and that was their gameplan: every set piece, look for Cundy, and they got rewarded from it. Our lads have to man up a little bit, we give them jobs, and if they don’t do them jobs, we come down heavy on them. I think they realised that today, we say things for a reason, so go and do it. It’s disappointing but we know we can bounce back from this.

Going back to the same discussion of the experienced head, is he any closer to joining us? You now look as if you’re desperate for one?
We’re desperate for bodies. Naby (Diallo) might be struggling, Caney (Jacob Cane) is obviously going to be coming out for a game, Popey (Jason Pope) too. We’re at bare bones, we know that. However, that experienced one has to come for the right reasons. We can’t have him coming in and thinking that it’s a payday, they have to have the right attitude. I head and kick every ball on the sideline, and I need that person to come in and be that player for us on the pitch. We’ve spoken to a couple, and you never know, hopefully they might come for the right reasons but like anything, we have a budget to stick to and we’re not going to break that.

Image: Will. T. Photography

Looking further into the squad you’ve already got, is George Morris-Edwards now going to come back and play a part in the squad? George will be back with us. We may have to look at playing him on Tuesday so it may be a case that we need those bodies but I’ll assess it, we need to give the lads 24 hours to see how the walking wounded have recovered and hopefully it’s not going to be as bad as we thought.

With you being down to the bare bones, is there a chance that Jack Goodall may get a chance in the next few weeks?
Jack’s done brilliantly down at Shepton Mallet, he does superbly in training, he’s one that’s still a young lad and the tempo of games are slightly different at where he is to here. But I can see him making the step up in the next 12 to 18 months. He’s done really well, and he might deserve his opportunity at some point.

Image: Will. T. Photography

Eli Phipps has come into favour a bit over the last couple of games. Are you going to use him more?
Eli had a niggling injury, a reoccurrence, so we couldn’t just throw him straight back in. We needed to make sure that we bring him in slowly, but he may have to play a part as well as Jamie Lucas, Tom Llewellyn, they’re all players who should be chomping at the bit to go and play. I’ll be looking at them and seeing how many of them are hungry to go and do it, and if they are then they get the opportunity because we need to start making an impact in the final third.

Looking at the next month, you’ve got Gloucester, Billericay, Eastbourne, Truro and Slough. How big a month is it in terms of getting results?
Every month’s important now. Every single one of them’s winnable, there’s not a team that we can’t beat on our day and that’s how we have to look at it. Things can chance really quickly, but we need those back-to-back wins. Like when we go to Chippenham and do well there, we need to bounce back with another win and the gap closes. We’ll be working hard on that and it is an important one and hopefully come the end of January, we’ll all be breathing a sigh of relief and looking upwards.

Image: Will. T. Photography

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