Wilkin demands disciplined approach from his players

Brackley Town's Richard Batchelor and Alfreton Town's Todd Jordan clash at St James Park
Brackley Town's Richard Batchelor and Alfreton Town's Todd Jordan clash at St James Park

The first ever visit of FC United of Manchester to St James Park could prove significant for both clubs.

Brackley Town and United find themselves in the wrong half of the Vanarama National League North table ahead of Saturday’s clash.

I’m trying my hardest to keep this club in the league but going down to ten men in games is not helping

Saints boss Kevin Wilkin

Saints remain in the bottom three after a sixth outing without a victory while United are four points better off with a game in hand.

Saints lost by the odd goal in five at United in front of nearly 3,000 fans in August and the visitors are sure to bring a big following on Saturday.

Saints will again be without suspended midfielder Joe Clarke but Ryan Austin will be free to play despite his straight red card in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat against Alfreton Town. And another red card was just what Wilkin didn’t want as he tries to guide Saints to safety.

Wilkin said: “This weekend’s game with FC United has obviously taken on more significance now after our poor run. But we have to stop getting red cards, in recent weeks we’ve had too many and that has made it even more difficult for us.

“I’m trying my hardest to keep this club in the league but going down to ten men in games is not helping. We’ve finished with ten men in too many games since I arrived, it’s gone on for far too long.

“I’ve got to try and get a tune out of these players, perhaps we may have to throw caution to the wind and go for it in games now.”

Wilkin was hoping to have a couple of loan signings on board before the weekend. Looking back on Saturday’s defeat, Wilkin said it felt like a hole had swallowed his side up. He said: “We had loads of endeavour but it is about managing games and poor decision-making.

“We bossed the first half and should have been two or three goals up with the chances we had. They started the second half strongly and we needed to see out that opening spell.

“After conceding one we conceded again so soon and the game turned on its head, then the red card and it felt like a hole swallowing us up.

“If we had all 11 players on the pitch even at 2-1 anything can still happen. We kept three at the back and continued to go for it and conceded two more so it felt terrible.”