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Dean Brennan's Pre-Match Thoughts

Ahead of our top-of-the-table clash against Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday afternoon, Dec O’Reilly spoke to Dean Brennan to gather the manager’s thoughts ahead of our National League South fixture at Grosvenor Vale.

Squad update…

“Jake [Sheppard] had an accident at home and has a hole in his leg which got infected, so he’ll be out for a while. It’s frustrating but there’s nothing we can do about it.

“Ryan [Sellers] is still a while away, seven [or] eight weeks from returning.

“Kav [Kavan Cotter] is having an MRI scan this [Thursday] afternoon, we’ll know more on him after the scan.”

On Havant & Waterlooville…

“They’ve got major resources, they train in the mornings and get a lot of contact time with their players. If I’m being honest, they have a National League squad. They have a manager [Paul Doswell] who has done well in the last few seasons in the National League with Sutton [United] and he’s doing a lot of good things at the football club.

“They have got a lot of experience and good power in the front-line with [Jonah] Ayunga. Plenty of experience in their team in [Nicky] Bailey, Sammy Magri, [Anthony] Straker, Ross Worner the ‘keeper are all very experienced players.

“They have an array of talent in their squad like Roarie Deacon and Wes Fogden, I could go on-and-on about their players. Most of them played in the division above last year and they have the resources to go and compete for the title in this division, there’s no doubt they’ll be in the mix next April.

“I watched their game live against Dorking [Wanderers] and it’s probably the strongest performance I’ve ever seen at this level. They were unbelievable and absolutely annihilated Dorking, if you look at some of their goals they were unbelievable goals. They are capable of giving teams a hiding, but so are we.

“I’d say it’s an appetising game. There’s three points available, that’s the same as when you play anyone else and that has to be our mentality. We’ll respect the opposition whoever we’re playing which is also part of our mentality and our application to games.”

On this being one of the biggest games of the season so far…

“It’s not really, we’re just enjoying the position we’re in. You have to respect Maidstone [United] and Dulwich [Hamlet], the full-time clubs because they’ll both be in the mix. Being full-time will count at Christmas time, they’ll probably be training on Christmas Eve but our lads won’t be because of their jobs or spending time with family.

“Those three clubs [Havant & Waterlooville, Maidstone United and Dulwich Hamlet] will all definitely be in the mix. Hemel [Hempstead] have an experienced group [and] have started really well, there are plenty of clubs like Dorking [Wanderers] who have done particularly well and Braintree have done well since we went there and played really well.

“There’s a lot of clubs with a shout [because] it’s such a competitive division this year. We’re just looking forward to the game [against Havant & Waterlooville], I said last week that we want to be involved in these type of games.

“We started our season in July, three months ago, and the players have gave everything, that’s all we wanted. We have to continue to strive to make sure the players keep giving everything, we have to keep enjoying and being proud to be in the position we’re in, while still looking towards the next game.”

On any changes in style for this fixture…

“We’ll just play the way we play. They’re coming to our place, it’s up to them if they can adapt and change the way they play. We’ve got a lot of confidence within the group and as a management team, we have belief within the players.

“It’s going to be good for our players to have themselves against, for me, a National League side. It’s a good opportunity for our lads to see what level they’re at in their own personal progress as a player.

“We have a lot of players that have played at levels above this division but some of our players haven’t played in the level above, so it will be a good indicator to see if they can consistently do the business at the next level.

“We’re a good team, our performances have shown that. We share our goals across the pitch which is how I like my teams to play, we can’t just always rely on centre-forwards.”

On the importance of support this weekend…

“I believe it will be a tight game between two good sides, we have to make The Vale hostile for the opposition to play at. Coming out the small, gated, covered tunnel and the fans are having a pop at you, it can be intimidating and that’s how it’s got to be.

“It’s our job as a team to give the fans something to sing about. I’ve got to know a lot of the fans individually now, what I found is they are just passionate. They just want to see an honest team and win, draw or lose our team are honest.

“They’ve drove us on in some of the games. St. Albans away which was a tricky Tuesday night game, the fans drove us forward and stayed positive which has been key and has helped. We’ve gained plenty of points this season already where the supporters have had a lot to do with that.

“When we played Oxford City at home and it was getting late in the game with Oxford trying to frustrate us, our supporters remained positive. They’re going to be needed because we are all in this together and that’s the environment we like to create and work in.”

On the confidence that’s built from our 100% home record…

“I don’t look at stats like that to be honest, we just go into the game. We’ll train tonight [Thursday], we trained particularly hard on Tuesday so it will be a shorter session tonight. We’ll work on a few bits on where we think we can improve and we’ll go and play the game on Saturday.

“Whether we have a one-hundred percent home record or not doesn’t really bother me. We’re just really looking forward to the game, we’ll play on the front-foot and earn the right to play what we’re good at.”


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