Daryl McMahon said he was most disappointed by the visitors’ greater desire in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Warrington Town and he insists that’s something Fleet must show more of on Tuesday if they want to progress via a replay at Cantilever Park.
“When you cross the white line, the one thing you can’t give up in football is desire,” McMahon told BBC Radio Kent’s Matt Cole. “And they had more desire than we had today and that disappoints me massively. They outworked us. I don’t think you can put anything else on it. I’m sure [Paul Carden] who I know really well at Warrington, he’d probably take all my 11 lads over his but we just haven’t worked hard enough, simple as that.
“You need to work hard in every game of football, it’s the basics. If you don’t run around, you can’t win games. I just don’t think we worked hard enough from the first minute and then you’re always playing catch-up and then the frustration creeps in around the ground, with the players, with each other, which is natural when you don’t start well. But that was the disappointing thing. We’d spoken yesterday and today about making sure we start well and that first hour was important.”
Warrington Town gave their all to belie their league position two divisions down but the Fleet manager felt his side didn’t master the basics and sacrificed their technical ability as their frustrations grew.
“We weren’t anywhere near the level we expect to be,” he said. “We lacked any real tempo and urgency, we never really got going. It was massively uncharacteristic…[a lack of] technical ability from us in the sense of going under people’s feet, mis-controlling it, over-running it, a lot of bad decision-making today. Disjointed, I think, to be honest and we got out of jail at the end.
“I thought there were lots of bad decisions instead of us trying to roll our sleeves up and just doing what we have to do to dig it out today. I thought we tried to ‘over-football’ it sometimes in the wrong areas when it wasn’t really needed. But at the end, a great finish from Shieldsy to get us out of it and we have to grow up and bounce back Tuesday night.”
The replay is certainly a game McMahon could do without as Fleet have been unable to get a week’s rest since well before Christmas but the manager looked on the bright side that it will allow his players to get the performance out of their system – but only if they up their game at Warrington.
“You never want replays but I think I’d rather have a replay than not after that performance because you’ve got a chance to put it right,” he said. “We’ve got to go there and compete. We know what it’s going to be like. The pitch will be similar to ours, not in great nick, it’ll be competitive, there’ll be flying tackles. You’ve got to go and enjoy that and roll your sleeves up. As much as I love playing good football, and anyone who’s watched us knows we do, the teams’s always worked hard and today we fell below that level.”
McMahon was surprised at how lacklustre his side were after the heights of Tuesday night’s win at Maidstone. “Very surprised,” he said. “You don’t expect to go from that level to this level but that’s where we’re at. When people keep asking me about the play-offs, we’ve got very little chance of getting in there when we can’t build on performances enough. I think we go high and low too much, we don’t make good decisions when we’re not playing well.”
Meanwhile, just as the manager was getting his squad back from various injuries, he now faces the loss of Kenny Clark and Chris Bush. Clark, in particular, is expected to be out for quite some time, depending on the news in midweek from a visit to a specialist.
“He’s going on Wednesday,” McMahon explained, “so I won’t know exactly what it is until then. But it doesn’t look good. I wouldn’t expect him to be back… maybe not even this season. It’s the way it’s going for us this year. We’ve had an unbelievable amount of bad injuries and freakish incidents in training. We’ll see what happens Wednesday, that’s me giving you the worst-case scenario but it doesn’t look good at the minute.”
Listen to the full interview below…