MAYNARD | "It's a collective effort"
Stuart Maynard felt the fully-merited and well-conceived win over Yeovil Town sets the team up well for the big derby game with Barnet on Saturday.
Maynard and his assistant Matt Saunders made the long midweek drive to Huish Park at the start of the month to run the rule over Darren Sarll's team and then took full advantage of a rare Saturday without a match to organise an in-house game where they set one of the teams up like Yeovil to try and replicate what they were likely to face at The Vale on Tuesday night. It worked a treat.
The upshot was the most vibrant first-half attacking display of the season at home. The Stones were two goals to the good at the break, thanks to two in five minutes from Josh Umerah and Nikola Tavares, and then withstood a bit of a rally from the visitors in the second half to close out a 2-1 win.
"I thought it was a deserved win," said Maynard. "We sat back a little too deep when we conceded the penalty and it got a bit edgy but it's an unbelievable win. Eight years ago Yeovil were a Championship side so it's incredible for our club to get a scalp like this. The lads have put in an unbelievable shift.
"When you have a week to prepare it makes such a difference as you aren't then cramming everything into an hour and half. We had a week to prepare for this one and that helped us prepare properly for the game. We researched them and we knew how we could really pin them back. I think we got it spot on tactically. We flipped the shape a little bit and the lads took it on board."
Ira Jackson came in for his first start since the beginning of December and the forward was a livewire, particularly in the first half when he almost opened the scoring with a howitzer from long range.
"Ira bided his time, kept his head down and made a real impact," said Maynard. "He worked hard and showed his quality at times. All the lads who have been in and out of the team have been great. They stay positive around the group. It's a collective effort. We've always said the team who starts the season is very rarely the one that finishes the season."
There was also the welcome return of Rhys Browne, the exciting forward who charged off the bench for his first appearance since the end of November because of injury.
"Browney is unbelievable," said Maynard. "We love him here. He has so much ability and so much quality. We were devastated when he got injured [at Dover]. He's worked so hard in rehab, is positive around the place and we've just got to get him up to speed as quick as we can because you can see the impact he has. He could have had two goals tonight. He's a top player."
Browne got the winner the last time the Stones played Barnet – and now the blue and white army head into the weekend looking to complete the league double over their rivals.
"Form goes out the window when it's a derby," said the manager. "They've lost a few games recently but that can happen in this league. They are a good team with good players and it's a game we will give everything in. The lads know this is game for the fans, the club and all those people you don't see who work so hard behind the scenes. We have just got to make sure lads are on it and they give everything."