Saunders searches for the winning formula
TIVERTON Town manager Mark Saunders says he and assistant manager Hedley Steele must "find a solution" to their winless run quickly if they want to keep their play-off dreams alive.
The Yellows went down 2-0 to Abingdon United on Tuesday night to make it 10 games without a win in all competitions since a 2-0 win over Wimborne Town in mid November.
That run has seen the Yellows slip out of the play-off spots for the first time this year, and Saunders urged his under-performing players to improve ahead of Saturday's trip to Wimborne Town.
"Hedley and I need to sit down and find a solution," said Saunders, who will now have striker Michael Nardiello available for the rest of the season after work commitments had reduced his availability.
"We need to sort it out because that is nine league games now without a win and we have to put an end to it.
"I do not believe in the whole thing about the mental side of things though.
"Yes, sometimes strikers can have off-days and not score for a while but then go on runs , but I think ultimately the lads are just under-performing at the moment.
"I don't think the heavier pitches have been helping but, at the end of the day, you can't even say the pitch at Abingdon was particularly bad, so you can't blame that.
"Both of the sides we have played – Abingdon and Cinderford (a 0-0 draw) – are games we should be winning if we want to stick around the play-offs.
"Teams like Yate are on good runs while we are dropping points so we need to sort it out now."
Looking back on Tuesday night's performance, which saw the Yellows scuppered by a goal in each half, Saunders admitted the first half in particular was below par.
"It was more than a fair result. We had our backsides kicked for the first 45 minutes – nobody could have come off at half-time and said they did well," he said.
"Everyone was poor, our marking was poor and everything else was poor. To be fair to Abingdon, they could have been three or four goals up by half-time.
"It was a long mid-week journey but that does not stop us from playing well. You could see we were not set up right from the word go.
"But, to our credit, we came out after the break much, much better and had a right go, but there was no end product.
"It was disappointing but they thoroughly deserved their win – it was just one of those days when nothing went right for us."
Last Saturday, Tivvy scrapped their way to a battling 0-0 draw in dreadful conditions against Cinderford Town.
Jules Emati-Emati was denied by a last-gasp sliding tackle, while skipper Paul Kendall headed straight at the Cinderford keeper on a chilly afternoon.
At the other end Tiverton goalkeeper Chris Wright was relieved to see a stray backpass go unpunished on an otherwise-solid afternoon for the stopper, while the Yellows' Josh Concanen blazed over following a neat passing move.
Although Wright was perhaps the busier keeper in the second period, it was the hosts who looked the more likely to grab a winner, although both sides had to be content with a point.