Good evening and welcome to all our fans for tonight’s game against Coventry City...
I would also like to welcome the management and staff of our opponents today, along with the visiting directors and fans.
The lads lost by the odd goal to a very strong Mansfield side away on Saturday after drawing with the current league leaders the week before. I was told it was one of those games where it could so easily have been a 1-0 away win, but with both defences strong it was always going to be a low scoring game.
Our latest seven game EFL record hasn’t been great – one win, five losses and a draw - but we will keep working hard and we know we will turn it around, hopefully starting this evening.
The squad overall is strong, and we have so many good young players ready to come into the side. Be very clear, there is a world of difference to the approach of big spending clubs like Coventry, Mansfield, Notts County and Luton.
They will give youth a chance, but not in the way our management is forced to make it work, due to financial limitations. But we believe in our young players and if we can bed them in I think we have got an exciting future ahead.
Mark McKee (18), Luke Slater (19), Ben Wilmot (18) and Terence Vancooten (19) are tremendous prospects yet to make their mark on the EFL and awaiting the opportunity to make a first team shirt their own.
We already have Ben Kennedy (20), Dale Gorman (21) and Tom Conlon (21) firmly established with over 180 combined first team games behind them. We all know we can’t play a team of U21s in this physically and mentally demanding league, but we will always continue to bring youngsters through because without the 5,000 gates needed to fund a really competitive budget on our cost base, we have no choice but to go down this road.
This is why Darren was appointed to manage in the first place and the benefit we enjoy is that he signed most of these players as youngsters. However, nobody has to tell me how dangerous it is allowing young players to gain the experience they need, and we can never lose sight of the fact that our ultimate objective is to be in the top seven of whichever EFL league we are in, as well as enjoy cup runs. Young players develop quicker and more effectively in a winning culture, so we are determined to get that in place.
On this point, the club’s management are delivering some of the Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) laid down before the season started; (i) develop young players, (ii) provide fast flowing, passionate, exciting football, (iii) compete in the top seven and (iv) deliver a cup run.
These are the basic KPI requirements that our club needs to survive and prosper.
However, I do recognise that management can always do that more effectively with a higher budget and so we have to be patient and deliver that too, either with higher attendances, a cup run, or the sale of players.
Our opponents today currently occupy the last play-off spot and are five points ahead of us. We have lost our way a little, but I have seen that all before. I have also seen what putting together consecutive wins can do and I have faith in our club and everyone working in it.
We won’t stop until we are delivering the wins that will see us in one of those top seven spots at the end of the year.
Enjoy the match!
Read Chairman Phil Wallace's notes in tonight's matchday programme, available for just £3 from around the ground and inside the club shop.