Maynard: "We need to pick ourselves up for the fans."
Stuart Maynard has thanked the fans for their unwavering support of the team.
The manager has developed a strong bond with the supporters since he took full charge and appreciates their support more than ever during this sticky patch. He and his assistant Matty Saunders demonstrated their appreciation by helping to make sure the supporters coach to Altrincham on Tuesday night is able to go ahead and doesn't run at a loss.
"The fans play a key part and I really appreciated them clapping the lads off again and at the end of the game," said the manager. "I think they kind of appreciated what we were up against in Notts County. It means a lot to the lads. The lads are down, the lads are devastated and that's the one thing we have in this group: we have a group of lads that care. We've got to pick ourselves up and go again."
Even when the team made a flying start to the season, when they won four of their first five games to lead the table, Maynard was acutely aware the capricious nature of this division, and the quality it has, meant a dip is never too far away. Grimsby, for example, led the table when they came to The Vale this time last season and then lost 13 of the next 15 games. They are now 11th in League Two.
The part-time Stones are 14th, two places above where they finished last season. That mid-table position in the National League, however, was of little consolation to midfielder Alex Dyer when he spoke immediately after Tuesday's game.
"We're hurting right now in the dressing room," he said. "The boys are hurting because it's embarrassing [to get beat like that] at home when the support is so good. It's a hard one to take. Everyone's hurt and everyone should be hurt. We have just got to use that and use the pain of the defeat and hopefully use that as motivation to get better. We're hurt and we can't wait for the next game. We really want to put it right."
* Pictures by Darren Campbell