Daryl McMahon acknowledged his side never reached the levels of recent performances against Sutton but insists his bare-bones squad are up for the thousand-mile challenge to Gateshead and Torquay. The defeat, Fleet’s first at home in almost three months, saw Dover leapfrog us into the seventh place but with a game in hand, McMahon’s side could potentially hit fifth spot if they overcome Gateshead.
“It wasn’t as good as we have been playing,” the Fleet manager told BBC Radio Kent’s Matt Cole. “I don’t think we hit the levels we have been hitting in the last three months. We’ve been on a great run and Sutton defended well, were dogged and countered well. It was a tough game and probably wasn’t a pretty game to watch to be honest. It was unfortunate to lose it but we go on the Tuesday now.”
Sutton were effective in shutting down the Fleet’s avenue to goal and McMahon said he expected his opposite number to get a reaction after hauling his players over the coals in midweek.
“The poor run they’ve been on like they have, I think we always knew Sutton would resort to type in the sense they’ve always been very good under Dos and Bairdy in terms of [they’re] resilient, hard to break down, defend deep, good pace in the team. And we said to the boys today, six weeks ago they were top of the table. They’re a good side,” McMahon said. “There was loads [we could have done to stop the goal] but he’s a good player. Bolarinwa’s a big, big player for them, a very good footballer, good pace and a good goal for them.
“We couldn’t find any room. We missed Andy Drury today. He’s been ill all week and we chucked him in today to see would he get through the game and he couldn’t. He was struggling with his energy levels but we missed him today to give us a bit more composure and unlock the game for us but it happens.”
Drury wasn’t the only casualty, with Sean Shields lost to injury on the stroke of half-time and the prognosis for the winger didn’t seem promising.
“It doesn’t look good at the minute,” the Fleet boss confirmed. “But always when you have an impact injury, you don’t know how it is until the swelling comes down. Hopefully we can assess it on Monday and see where he’s at it but I wouldn’t expect him to be fit probably this season. He’s a big player for us, he’s had a great season and we will miss him but it gives somebody else an opportunity to step into his shoes and perform.”
The Fleet manager is determined to shield his players from the burden of expectation going into the final two games and says they’re still one of the few teams in the top eight able to go out and express themselves.
“There’s no pressure or stress on us to get into the play-offs,” McMahon stated. “We try and get into the Top 10, if we can finish higher, brilliant. We’re down to the bare bones and the players have been outstanding. As a group we’ve been quite level-headed all season and we’ll continue to do that. Everyone gets excited when we’ve been on a good run but it’s not doom and gloom when you lose as well. We’ve got to build slowly to make sure we’re a competitive team going forward.
“We can’t become nervous about it. We’ve got to enjoy it, we’ve got nothing to lose with two games to go. You get teams that have been in there all season and they’ve fallen out. They’ll be two tough games. It’s a busy week and we’ll do over a thousand miles going to Gateshead and then down to Torquay but we’ll go and embrace it.”
Listen to the full interview below.