Town boss rubbishes talk of relegation dogfight

TALKING UP HIS TOWN SIDE -- manager Tommy Brookbanks says his squad is too good to go down
TALKING UP HIS TOWN SIDE -- manager Tommy Brookbanks says his squad is too good to go down

BULLISH boss Tommy Brookbanks insists there is “no chance” his stuttering Hucknall Town side will get sucked into a relegation battle this season.

Goal-shy Town have not won a game in the Evo-Stik League, Premier Division since the turn of the year.

In a nightmare start to 2011, Brookbanks’s team have lost to Stocksbridge Park Steels, Northwich Victoria and FC United of Manchester, while also drawing with Mickleover Sports.

The shaky run has seen The Yellows drop from as high as eighth in the table, and only one point off the promotion play-off slots, to 15th, only four places above the drop-zone.

And with four teams to be relegated from the top flight this term, the pressure is on to rediscover that winning formula soon.

After last Saturday’s game at home to Whitby Town was postponed because of a frozen pitch, Town are now ten points adrift of the top five but only six clear of the bottom four. And four of the seven teams below them have games in hand.

However Brookbanks says he is not unduly worried. He said: “I am not at all concerned about it. No, not at all.

“We have too much quality in this squad. Obviously we have to put the work and commitment in. But we have a good squad here.

“Our performances have been OK since Christmas. Now we just need to start putting the ball in the back of the net.

“I knew we were going to have a topsy-turvy season but we have never had a spell where we have lost four or five on the trot.

“It is just one of those things. If we had beaten Stocksbridge, we would have gone third. We didn’t and we have since slid down the table.

“A couple of wins and we are right back in it. It’s that kind of league.

“It has only been four games and two of those were against FC United of Manchester and Northwich Victoria. It’s not like we’ve lost three or four games to teams below us.

“Relegation has not been mentioned by myself or the players. We are preaching the same things we did before Christmas.

“We will be OK come the finishing line.”

Nevertheless the Town chief admitted there could be a point in the future where he might start looking over his shoulder at the drop-zone.

“In three or four games’ time,” said Brookbanks.

“And only then if we have not won again by then.”

Town’s next three league matches are FC United of Manchester at Watnall Road, away to play-off chasing Chasetown and a home derby clash with big-spending high-flyers Worksop Town.

The Yellows need to start winning soon if they are to surpass the number of points that has been required for safety in the past three seasons.

Last season, it was 44 points. The previous year, it was 46 and in 2007/08, it was 44. Town currently have 30 points with 18 games left to play.

Brookbanks added: “I am aiming to get another 20-plus points at least. I want us to finish on 50-plus points. I would have taken that at the start of the season.

“Finishing halfway up the table would make me happy.

“It would be one of my biggest achievements to come through this season unscathed and perhaps with a cup on the sideboard.

“Then, with these young lads, we can really kick on next season.”

Brookbanks has always said that he should be judged on where Town stand halfway through his second season at Watnall Road.

THE seven games that Town had postponed during the bad weather have now been rearranged.

On Tuesday February 15, Worksop Town visit Watnall Road and then four days later, Saturday February 19, The Yellows go to Ossett Town.

The following Tuesday (February 22), Chasetown come to Hucknall, while March begins with a local derby at Retford United on Tuesday the 1st.

On Saturday March 5, The Yellows head to North Ferriby United before welcoming Whitby Town to Watnall Road on Tuesday March 15. Then Burscough come to town on Saturday April 9.