GARSTANG boss Stu Darley has targeted four points - and some goals - from his side’s next two fixtures to drag them away from a West Lancs League relegation dogfight.
A shock defeat last time out at home to Thornton Cleveleys in their first competitive game in a month brought their recent mini-revival to a crashing halt - and Darley says has plunged them “right back into the mire’’.
Until that game Garstang had won three out of their previous four league games to pull away from the drop zone and Darley was baffled about their inability to regain that level of performance against Thornton.
“On paper we had plenty of firepower in the team and should have been creating chances for fun, but the statistics don’t lie and for three quarters of the match we didn’t threaten at all’’ said Darley. “It’s something we need to put right. We need to create more and I will be looking for a massive improvement this weekend.’’
On Saturday Garstang travel to face Stoneclough, before another away trip to Poulton Town on March 5. Both these opponents lie just above 14th placed Garstang in the league table, and Darley knows they could prove to be crucial fixtures in the final analysis.
“They are both real six pointers for us. I’ve told the lads not to worry about the sides at the top of the league, we need to be winning the games against the teams around us. We are in our own mini-league now and the reality is that we are right back in the mire.
“My aim now is to avoid relegation and we are in a real battle. We may have games in hand but I’d sooner have points on the board. We are running into a tough period of games and we need to get ourselves some points on the board.’’
Darley wasn’t happy that Garstang found themselves with another fixture on the backlog list as the weekend’s scheduled game against runaway leaders Wren Rovers was postponed so the Blackpool side could feature in a representative Northern Counties Cup tie.
“To be honest we have got such a pile-up of games I think it would have been common sense to try to move the cup game instead’’ said Darley.
“I realise it’s a prestige game but Wrens have played the majority of their league games and I’m sure they could have slotted this in on a better date. Unfortunately we have lost out and that will create problems for us later on when we have so many games still to play.’’
Darley believes that despite the recent lack of goals, defensively Garstang have proved to be very strong - and he’s also looking forward to the return of one of his strongest players in the back four.
“Geoff Wilson still thinks of himself as a centre forward but believe me, he’s a fantastic centre back, a real stopper. He is going to be incredibly important to us in the final weeks so to see him coming back is a great boost’’ said Darley of the Garstang stalwart.
He is also hoping to have influential midfielder George Pennington available if he can shake off a minor knee injury.
Darley said: “I like to take things one game at a time but that defeat has meant these next two games are vital. I reckon we need to be looking at a minimum of four points from these games to give us some breathing space, it’s as simple as that.’’