MARK Bower feels the delivery of some harsh “home truths” has aided his Bradford (Park Avenue) side, even if they remain bottom of National League North.
Avenue visit Southport tomorrow looking for their first win of the campaign, but Bower saw enough in last weekend’s 3-1 defeat at high-flying AFC Fylde to suggest they could get three points on Merseyside.
He felt his side reacted well to a dreadful 2-1 FA Cup defeat at ninth-tier Ashington the previous weekend, saying: “At Ashington a fortnight ago, for all we had a perfectly good goal disallowed which would have given us a replay, the performance wasn’t good enough.
“It highlighted a few issues and the lads had to hear a few home truths afterwards.
“But our younger lads in particular reacted well against Fylde and they’ve actually probably taken this bad run in their stride better than the older heads.
“But those more senior players have been there and seen it all in their careers, the good and the bad, and they know fortunes can change.
“Hopefully for us, that change comes quickly.”
But Bower does not want to put too much pressure on his players, who are all too aware that four sides will be relegated from the division at the end of the season, when only one went down last term.
The Avenue boss said: “We know we need more points than we’ve got at the moment.
“But there’s no pressure on the players or specific targets being set.
“I know it’s a terrible football cliche, but we’ve just got to try and do our best to get a result in every game we play.
“If we do that, then the table and our position should take care of itself.
“At the moment, we’re making costly mistakes and teams are punishing us, but our games have been close and competitive against nearly everyone in the league this season, so we feel we’re capable of turning things round and going on a run.”
Avenue have played most of the sides who have started well already, whereas Southport are struggling slightly, sitting 18th after five defeats in their opening nine league games.
But Bower said: “We don’t think about Southport being lower down like us, and we’ll just be looking at their strengths and weaknesses like we would with any other team.
“The way the league season has gone so far, there are some sides up there that we maybe didn’t expect, and we’ve found it tough against a couple of them.
“But we know Southport are strong too. They’re reasonably direct, are good at set-pieces, and play with two centre-forwards.
“They have some quality footballers too who can move the ball around, putting you under pressure and making it difficult for you to get out of your half.
“But we moved the ball well ourselves against Fylde and got some chances, so we’ll play to our strengths, trying to get on the ball and have an impact in the final third.
“We changed things around a bit at Fylde, and with Brad (Dockerty) coming back we have a bigger goal threat.
“And with us having a pretty much fully-fit squad now, we’ve got good options off the bench.
“But Southport will expect us to be low on confidence after our bad start and will probably come at us early.
“We’ll have to weather that potential early storm and then compete like we have been.”