Banbury United are out of the cups but boss Mike Ford says the underdog tag associated with knockout competitions will suit him just fine in the next three games.
The Puritans entertain Evo-Stik Southern League leaders Cinderford Town on Saturday with Ford more than happy for his young players to go into the game without the pressure of being favourites to take all three points.
The last few weeks have been a bit draining on the playersPuritans boss Mike Ford
That has not been the case in recent games and Ford reckons it finally took its toll on his players following Saturday’s stalemate at Shortwood United. Despite the Puritans extending their unbeaten Division One South run to ten games, Ford felt the pressure on his players hindered their performance.
Saturday’s game is followed by Tuesday’s trip to Taunton Town, who sit one place below the Puritans in sixth, where Ford’s boys will face another tough test.
He said: “The last few weeks have been a bit draining on the players. Many of my young players have not played senior football regularly before this season and have not gone into every game expecting to win it.
“Now, for the next three games against the leaders Cinderford, Taunton Town, who are in the top six, and Evesham United, who have a big budget, we will be the underdogs.
“It will be nice for the players to be able to relax and get back to playing football the way we want them to with a bit more freedom.
“We are still a million miles ahead of where I expected us to be at this stage of the season and the players deserve a lot of credit for getting us to where we are.
“In recent years this football club has only managed to get enough points to stay up and obviously last season they didn’t get enough and went down. This time there is a lot of pressure on us with supporters expecting us to beat teams in the lower half of the table and we’ve managed to do that.”
With the festive season in full swing, supporters attending Saturday’s game against Cinderford can gain admission for just £5 and under-16s accompanied by an adult can get in for free.
There are also a number of attractions on the day, including a Christmas raffle, games, free gift for all children, a mini craft fayre, special offers on beers in the clubhouse and even a visit from the panto.