Brabin calls for great mental strength

TOWN must improve their mental strength if they are to realise their ambitions this season, writes Mark Wood.

Manager Gary Brabin saw his side squander an away lead for the sixth time this season as they drew 1-1 at Lincoln on Tuesday night.

And he’s called on his players to show more resilience ahead of their home clash with Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division strugglers Swindon Supermarine in the FA Trophy first round proper tomorrow.

He said: “It’s something we’ve spoken about as well. I certainly don’t think it’s a physical thing if anything I would say it’s the mental conditioning.

“We switch off for a second and we feel like we are getting punished. If you fight and force things you will eventually get your reward and be mentally strong enough to combat that.

“Physically I’m 100 per cent confident we are a fit, physically-prepared football team. We’ve just got to be a lot tougher about all the things I speak about.

“The expectancy of the club, you are playing for a big club and shouldn’t fear that, you should relish that and mentally get up to the challenge and let no-one take things from you.”

And Brabin admitted they need to improve on a number of disappointing results that have seen the Hatters lose at home to Cambridge United, Wrexham and Fleetwood and draw at the likes of Bath, Ebbsfleet and Lincoln having been in the lead.

He continued: “The one thing we’re disappointed in, which is the most important thing, is we are not in a better position in terms of points on the board.

“We didn’t expect to be running away with the league at this stage but we certainly didn’t want to be 10-11 points off the pacesetters that’s disappointing there’s no hiding away from that.

“I think it makes it worse when you look at some of the games. We like to be frank with what’s going right, what’s going wrong and certainly what’s going wrong. Certainly losing at home to Cambridge, certainly losing at home to Wrexham and losing at home to Fleetwood, they were massive blows for us.

“Being 2-0 up at Ebbsfleet that’s hard to take, the same result at Hayes & Yeading and Bath. For me those are the games we look back on and we are angry with and really disappointed.

“The Lincoln one we are disappointed because we felt we deserved and should have done better to wrap the game up and we haven’t. That makes it a lot worse when you look at those results and that makes it seem 10 times worse.

“There’s different ways of looking at it, if we’d won the home games against Wrexham and Fleetwood they are minus three points and we are plus six points and all of a sudden it’s a lot tighter at the top.

“That there for me are the big disappointments. Like I keep saying, and I do genuinely believe it, we have a great bunch of lads here who want to be successful. They are working hard every day and buying into what we want to do.

“We’ve touched on the things we want to do better and every team wants to fight and scrap and give every ounce of energy when they play against Luton Town Football Club because they realise it’s a massive football club.

“You go and watch them or you go to Cheltenham and watching them play against other teams and they are playing for the enjoyment and fun and when they are playing against us it’s a fight and a scrap and we’ve got to be prepared for that.

“We’ve got to keep playing football the right way but realise there’s going to be a scrap and when we are going a goal up we have to fight to keep that goal advantage.”

Brabin was also disappointed by some of the refereeing on Tuesday night, which saw the Hatters pick up a whole host of bookings in the last half hour as both Alex Lawless and Jamie Hand were dismissed for two bookable offences.

He said: “It’s still disappointing because you look at the game and we look like we were the ill-disciplined ones and I don’t think that was the case.

“I think they were stupid. I think we could have done better to avoid the sending offs. They were silly but I think right on the button when I saw some of the other things that went on beforehand.

“You know like simply making substitutions. Robbie Willmott jogs half the way and walks half the way and gets booked.

“And yet their player walks the whole way and doesn’t get booked. Little things like that and it is hard to swallow.

“We’ve had two elbows in the face from a particular player who was taken off at half time because maybe they realised they were lucky enough to get away with it for 45 minutes but didn’t think they were going to get away with it for another 45.

“We were disappointed with that but again that’s out of our control and we want to deal with the things we can control and that’s one of the things we talked about being mentally strong.”

But he is determined his players will succeed and rise to the level of expectancy at Kenilworth Road.

“I think sometimes people think we go home and don’t think about it. From my own personal point of view it does affect your life,” Brabin added.

“There’s nothing better than winning football matches and being successful and I know and I do believe in this bunch of players that they are good enough to get promoted from this league.

“I want more from them, we’ve had lengthy chats and meetings and we are all in agreeance we can do more and I do genuinely believe some of the lads have the same feelings.

“They are disappointed and it really is hard to swallow, we know the expectancy, but that’s a fantastic thing to have. It’s better to have that expectancy with the following we’ve got with expectations.

“That’s not something to fear, that’s something you should thrive on.

“I would definitely rather have that than play for a club who have got 1,000 watching them and are happy drawing games. That’s not the case for us, we want to back it up with performances we know we are capable of.”