JOINT manager Jimmy Albans says mental agility will be key to another successful season for Grantham Town.
The Gingerbreads go into tomorrow’s Lincolnshire County Shield semi-final on the back of a generally successful pre-season campaign. A 5-3 win at Kettering Town on Saturday was followed up by a 2-1 win at Basford United in midweek. Other highlights of friendlies have been a 3-0 victory over Lincoln City and holding York City to a 1-1 draw.
Despite Grantham’s seemingly good early form, Albans remained stoic. He said: “Match-wise, the pre-season tests haven’t all turned out as we hoped they would. Every game has been a challenge in its own way, and has helped us to gel as a team.”
Albans lauded his and joint boss Wayne Hallcro’s summer signings who he said had already shown of what they were capable.
Albans said: “Karl Demidh, Connor Higginson and Ash Robinson are all doing very well. We like what we are seeing. Jimmy Lindley is showing he is a calming influence at the back, while Macca [Emeka Nwadike] is showing the same in midfield.”
With pre-season out of the way, the Gingerbreads now turn their attention to the season proper. County Shield holders Grantham visit Blue Square North side Gainsborough Trinity tomorrow and Albans said they were keen to retain the trophy.
Albans said: “Every game from now on matters, starting with Saturday. We are the holders and don’t want to give it up without a fight.”
Higginson and Robinson are suspended tomorrow, Joe Briers will be at Boston United’s youth set-up, and Grant Brindley has neck trouble, leaving Albans and Hallcro with 16 players from which to choose.
Pretty much guaranteed to be starting will be midfielder Rhys Lewis, to whom Albans lavished particular praise.
Albans said: “Gainsborough are a very good football side and will pass the ball around well. We need to be involved in the game in the middle of the park, where the energy of a player like Rhys Lewis can make such a difference. We saw that when we brought him on at Basford and in the Kettering game.
“Rhys scored 14 from the centre of midfield last season, that makes a huge difference to any side to get that sort of contribution.”
Albans pointed out that pre-season performances are no real gauge of how things might pan out when “the real stuff starts”.
He said that they had to be wary of not burning players out too early and added that others might not come to fruition until the season is in full swing.
Albans said: “Mental sharpness is one of the things we are aiming to come out of pre-season with. We demonstrated it against York for the whole 90 minutes. We haven’t don’t that in some other games.
“We need to be 100 per cent focused from the first whistle on Saturday, until the last one next April.”
Albans said he understood the frustrations of players who might find themselves on the substitutes’ bench at the season’s start. He said the bench would hopefully always be populated by three forwards, one midfielder and one defender throughout the season.
Albans said: “Whatever starting line-up we go with on Saturday or through the season, you want to have substitute options that can go out and change the game. We feel this gives us that, no matter who or how we start the game.
“We’re going out there this season looking to give a good account of ourselves, no matter who we face.”