Danny Grainger looks ahead to the trip to HartlepoolWe spoke to club captain Danny Grainger ahead of training on Thursday afternoon about the trip to Hartlepool on Good Friday.
“Hartlepool is definitely one of the fixtures everyone looks for at the start of the season,” he said. “I think the last two years we’ve gone over there and the fans have travelled in their numbers and we’ve come away with positive results.
“We were talking about the 3-2 win over there last year and it was probably the highlight of the season for me. It was fantastic. The fans will travel well again tomorrow and we want to make sure we can put on a show for them.
“When the fans travel in their numbers like they do it does bring the best out of us as a group. When you look at the games where we have a big backing we do seem to get positive results in about 90% of them. Even as far down as Wimbledon when there was a big London Branch presence a couple of seasons ago, we always seem to do well."
“This weekend is massive," he continued. "We got back in the dressing room after the Notts County game and looked at the results and we knew we could have been sat there with a five point gap. It’s another game chalked off and another game closer to the play-offs. It’s also another game less that other teams have got to get more positive results than we do.
“Whatever happens from now until the end of the season, as long as we’re in the play-offs it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if we get there with five wins or three wins and two defeats. As long as we get into the play-offs I’m more than confident we can do the business.
“It’s all in our hands. If we do the business no-one can catch us, it’s as simple as that. Teams around us have still got a lot of tough games to come and we all know there are no easy games in this league.
"Even tomorrow, you look at a team third bottom against a team in the play-offs and think it should be a nailed on result, but it isn’t. Nothing is a given in this league. We need to make sure we work hard and we’ll be doing everything we can to get the three points."
Looking back to last weekend, he said: "The Notts County game was obviously frustrating. You look at that game and I don’t think we played great, but we’d played a lot better than they did.
"We nullified them and if you look at what they had up front, with Jon Stead and Shola Ameobi, they've caused lots of teams problems, but our game plan worked well for 86 minutes. We probably had the better chances all the way through the game so it was disappointing to let it slip.
“We came back in on Monday and we’ve worked hard all week. Things have been kept nice and upbeat. We’ve analysed it and gone through the things we needed to go through, we’ve had a chat amongst ourselves as a set of players and we’ve put it behind us now.
"We can’t affect what happened last Saturday, we’ve just got to make sure we affect what happens tomorrow."
On the role of the team captain during these important team meetings, he said: “We’ve got a senior squad in there now. I try and make sure I’m at the forefront of those meetings, with Raynesy [Michael Raynes] and people like that, because we know we need to stand up at these times and make sure the lads know what needs to be done. Everyone is pulling in the same direction, which is the main thing.
“You don’t go on the run we did at the start of the season then become a bad team overnight. We can’t put our finger on what's happened, we obviously lost a lot of goals from the team in January, and we’ve lost key players at key points of the season.
"People can say they are excuses but I don’t think if you went through every other League Two team that you'd find anyone else who lost as many players as we did. Myself and JK [Jason Kennedy] haven’t started a game together since 10 December, it’s a long time since we’ve been on the pitch together.
"We aren’t going to sit here and say that’s the reason. There's enough in our dressing room that could have got us more results than we have got. We haven’t been good enough since Christmas so we need to make sure we put that right and get over the line and into the play-offs."
“It does give everyone a big lift when you see players coming back," he told us. "I know how frustrating it is to be out, particularly when you know you’re close and you just want to get back in. Dolly and Lee Fearn know what they’re talking about, they’re the specialists and they know what is going to give you the best chance of staying fit after you do come back.
"I know JK and Jabo [Ibehre] have been working hard to make sure they’re fully fit and ready to hit the ground running so that they have the impact we need them to. If you look at Jabo’s impact last week, he scored with his first touch. Even just seeing JK come onto the pitch gave the fans a lift. All these little things add up and I’m more than confident that we can get across the line."
As for his final message to the fans, he said: “It’s a five game season. We’ve said it for the last few games, but we’ve now got five games to get us across the line.
"As I said before, everyone has seen what happens when the fans get right behind us, home and away. If they can do that for these last five games and really push us on I’m more than confident we can get across the line.”