Saunders wants Tivvy to get back in groove
MARK Saunders is hoping that Tiverton Town have shaken off the ring rust caused by a lack of match action ahead of the visit of Bishops Cleeve on Saturday.
The Yellows played out their first match in over two weeks on Tuesday – a 0-0 derby draw at Taunton Town – after bad weather caused a number of postponements.
That was the Mid Devon club's first match since their 2-2 draw at home to Evesham United on December 15.
Saunders felt his players looked off the pace with the ball at their feet in Tuesday's encounter, and he hopes that match will have blown out the cobwebs ahead of Saturday's game.
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"We seem to have gone off the boil a bit with the football. We are not passing it in the way we know we can," said Saunders.
"We have got a bit sloppy. I think a few of the lads have had a bit too much fun over Christmas and New Year – we were just not at the races.
"We are getting it into the right areas but giving it away again. We then have to work our backsides off to get it back again and are at the wrong end of the pitch when we do.
"Hopefully that familiarity with the ball will come back. You can train and train and train but it is just not the same as playing.
"Our last match was against Evesham so we have had a good few weeks of not playing, but hopefully we will get back into the swing of it."
Saunders will have to cope with a number of absentees for Saturday's match.
Defensive duo Adam Faux and Paul Kendall will both serve out the second of their two-match bans.
The game also comes too soon for Michael Nardiello, although the striker is close to a return from the hamstring injury which has been troubling him, although Harry Nodwell did come off the bench to good effect against Taunton and his recovery from an ankle problem.
Looking back on Tuesday's derby-day draw, Saunders admitted his side had been somewhat fortunate to earn a point, although he hailed the stoic nature of their rearguard action.
"We got away with a point really," he said. "They have had two or three great chances in the first half but Chris Wright has made numerous saves to keep us in it.
"Having said that, you have to call the point against Taunton a good point because we did not play well but have still come out of it with a draw.
"The second half was fairly even really and I don't think either side deserved much out of it. But in the first, they were the better side and we were too sloppy and could not get into the game.
"The most important thing about the match was the clean sheet because we were under pressure and have done well not to concede."
Saunders was also optimistic that Ladysmead would be ready for Saturday's match.
The pitch, changing rooms and medical facilities at Ladysmead were hit by heavy flooding last week, leading to a large number of volunteers giving up the Boxing Day afternoon to help the tidy-up effort.
"It was very pleasing and heart-warming to see that many people giving up their Boxing Day to help the club," said assistant manager Hedley Steele.
"It was also nice to see that British thing of working hard and helping out others in adversity.
"Teams went in around midday and it has taken a huge effort to get it sorted. There were at least 30 people who pitched up to help, young and old.
"They all rolled their sleeves up and got stuck in with brooms and mops and did what had to be done and we are exceptionally gratefully for that."