Haverhill Rovers will have the chance to make up for their 8-1 drubbing to Ipswich Wanderers on March 3 when they meet again on Saturday (3pm).
The defeat at the New Croft was the nadir of Rovers’ season, but player-manager Michael Shinn says the team now have the chance to atone for some of the errors they made that night.
He said: “I think we have got the opportunity to right a few wrongs from that night.
“It certainly won’t be a case of we are going to go there and try and beat them 8-1, it’s a case of have we learned our lessons from that night?
“Obviously everyone is going to be looking at that game from the outside and saying it’s going to go one of two ways. It would be nice to say we have learnt from that night. In spells we have done and in spells we haven’t.”
Rovers kept a clean sheet in the two matches either side of that defeat — a 1-0 defeat of Fakenham Town and a goalless draw with Thetford Town — and have since gone on to lose 4-2 at Newmarket Town.
The contrasting set of results illustrate Shinn’s concerns about inconsistency, and he added: “It’s quite obvious we have been inconsistent.
“I’m not talking about game to game, I’m talking about spells in games where we have been great for half-an-hour and spells where we have not.”
Rovers have a clutch of experienced players missing for the Ipswich match.
Marcus Hunt is away at his brother’s stag weekend, while Shinn is on similar duty as his brother is also getting married soon.
Central defender Nick Wilderspin has no better than a 50/50 chance of playing due to a groin strain, while second-top scorer, Dalton O’Brien, is unavailable due to work commitments and experienced defender Paul Abbott is also doubtful.
“It’s come at a bad time”, said Shinn. “But the good thing is these players who have not played much lately now have an opportunity to say ‘I’ve not been playing and I should have been playing’, which is great.”
Rovers have been using a number of their under-18 players in the past few weeks, and the likes of Will Gardner, 17, Ty Alleyne, 17, Lawrence Healey, 16, and Oliver Stevenson, 18, have impressed their manager with their ability to learn what is expected of them and apply it.
Alleyne, he added, has probably played about 80 games this season, including games for his school, Rovers Eastern Junior Alliance, Rovers U18 and county U18 teams.
However, Shinn added that he is wary of placing too much expectation on the younger players, who cannot be expected to produce consistently high levels of performance due to their inexperience.
“We have five players in the county (U18) squad every time it is announced and there are other clubs higher up than us who don’t have that and we have got to take comfort from that, but at the same time they cannot jump in and take all that responsibility at once.”
Despite the inconsistency of the results in recent weeks, Shinn said he, assistant manager Dan Pilcher, and the club in general, retain the same long-term goals.
He said: “Sometimes results are hard to take but it is the case that sometimes I have to have tunnel vision.
“It is hard to block that out, but me and Pilch are very driven about what we want to do at the club, as are the football club itself.
“Regardless of what system we play (at Ipswich) or who plays, we all know what’s expected of us. You never have to question the players’ commitment or attitude; that’s not an issue, it’s just the consistency.”