We must adapt now, says Tiverton Town assistant manager Hedley Steele
ASSISTANT manager Hedley Steele acknowledges Tiverton Town must adapt their style of play to suit heavy conditions – but warns they will not become a long-ball team.
The Yellows laboured to a hard-fought 0-0 draw at home to Cinderford Town on Saturday, with both sides struggling to string passes together on a heavy playing surface.
Tivvy topped the league table back in November, but have suffered a serious dip in form since, going nine matches without a win.
That poor run has coincided with bad weather, making it hard for the Ladysmead side to play the passing football that has seen them occupy a play-off berth for much of the campaign.
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And although Steele would rather see the Yellows playing in a more attractive style, he concedes there is a time and a place for more direct play.
"Although it is against our principles of wanting the ball into feet and passing and moving, there are times when you have to be content to hit it diagonal, pressure the defenders and win the throw-ins," said Steele.
"A bit of pass-and-move and playing your way through the opposition would be nice but you can't always do that.
"We still try to get the lads to want to play whatever the conditions, but it's about making the right decisions on the pitch.
"You make all the best decisions from the touchline – you have your best games from there. In the hustle and bustle of a game, it's a bit different."
The winter period has hit Tivvy hard, with no win since mid-Novemer's 2-0 victory at home to Wimborne Town and a return of five points from a possible 24.
Up next is a trip to struggling Abingdon United tonight (Tuesday, 7.30pm), and Steele admits that Tivvy's indifferent form is affecting their style of play.
"We have to go Abingdon and I am sure it will be another heavy surface where we will have to roll our sleeves up," he said.
"But we will have to mix it up because sides pack their lines, set their stall out and say thanks very much, we'll defend that all day if you just hit it long.
"So you need more than just hitting it long or hitting it down the channels all the time – you have to mix things up.
"It all comes naturally when you are on a good run of games when you are half a yard sharper in your head and on your feet.
"When you are battling it out with the conditions as well as the opposition, the free-flowing side of the game is left wanting."