Lowestoft Town will use Ryman League play-off agony as their inspiration
Lowestoft Town joint boss Micky Chapman is using last season's play-off heartache to spur his players on in the Ryman League Premier title race ahead of their home clash against Wealdstone this afternoon, kick-off 3pm.
Chapman has reminded the Blues squad of the despair they felt following the 4-3 defeat against Tonbridge Angels and hopes it can inspire his players as the title race starts to hot up.
'The lads were so disappointed last year when we went to Tonbridge – we said on the day that we never, ever want to feel like this again,' said Chapman. 'We still remind the lads of that now. We are all determined, we're all in it together and we're mentally tougher as a result of the experience we had last year.'
Lowestoft will be looking to get back to winning ways today for the visit of Wealdstone following their 3-2 reverse at Canvey Island last weekend.
They are likely to have to do it without Dale Cockrill, who is still struggling for fitness although Erkan Okay has recovered from the calf injury that has sidelined him in recent weeks.
Adrian Forbes came on for the second half against Canvey and showed no ill-effects from the thigh problem that kept him out for seven weeks while Joe Francis is back in training and will be available.
Chapman admitted the Blues are going to need everyone fit and firing over the next few weeks.
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'We're going to need to use everyone in the squad and we need to try and keep everyone as fit as possible,' said Chapman, who takes his side to Kingstonian on Monday. 'We haven't got a massive squad but we've got a strong squad.
'Everyone is coming back at a crucial time and that will be a massive help to us – we've got some really big games coming up. We're not looking back over the defeat at Canvey. It's all about how you respond to a defeat. We're still in a really good position – there's going to be a lot of twists and turns before the end of the season and there's a lot of football still to be played.'
With Lowestoft well placed in third but with games in hand over both AFC Hornchurch and Billericay, the Blues' mental toughness is likely to be examined in the run-in. It proved their undoing last season but Chapman hasn't got any worries that his side are up to the challenge this time around.
'It's always better to have the points on the board but when you're in cup competitions then you do tend to fall behind,' he said. 'Last year we got to the stage where we had five or six games in hand – that's a massive mountain to climb when you're under pressure to win all those games.
'This time we've got two games on one and three on another team – that's not so bad. When you get too many games behind that's when the pressure can tell. This year we're better equipped mentally to deal with it. It's going to be a tough run-in but we're right in the mix.'