05:00PM, Friday 11 January 2019
Alan Devonshire claimed he wasn’t fussed by the Magpies exit from the FA Trophy this week with his focus now firmly on Tuesday’s (January 15) relegation six-pointer at Maidstone United.
The Magpies might have been visiting the Stones a little earlier, had they come through Tuesday’s rescheduled first round clash against Oxford City, but the National League South side claimed a 2-1 win after extra-time to knock them out of the competition.
It is the Hoops, rather than the Magpies, who’ll take on the Stones in the second round on Saturday.
Defeat will have checked some of the confidence and optimism built up by Saturday’s crucial 1-0 win at Gateshead, but seven points from 12 over the Christmas and New Year period is still a healthy return, and similar form between now and May will surely see the Magpies retain their National League place.
Substitute Nana Owusu blasted the Magpies in front against City, with a Ronaldo-esque free-kick, but Kabby Tshimanga levelled from the penalty spot before scoring from close range to book the Hoops’ passage to the next round. United struck the post twice in the first half and the unfortunate Ryan Upward saw a second half penalty saved by Craig King in an entertaining tie.
Devonshire said: “Listen, I’m not fussed about the FA Trophy game. It’s gone now. We’re now looking to Tuesday and our game at Maidstone.
“They’ve been signing a few players and will want to stay up just as much as we do. It’s a tough game but they’re all tough now. I thought we dominated the (Trophy) game for 60 minutes and were quite comfortable. They then scored from a penalty and we missed one. After that we seemed to tire a little bit. It’s disappointing to go out but we’re not going to worry about it too much.”
On Saturday Remy Clerima scored the only goal as the ‘Head beat the Heed’ at the International Stadium. The in-form James Comley did well to set him up.
“I’d rather reflect on our great win on Saturday,” said Devonshire. “In the first half (at Gateshead) we were very, very good. Again our keeper has had very little to do. Defensively we were excellent so, yes, it probably is one of our best performances of the season.
“But there are still lots of games to be played. We’re looking ahead to Tuesday now and will train hard for that on Thursday (tonight) and Saturday.
“They’re all big games now. No one game is bigger than another. We’ve got 18 of them and hope to build on our win on Saturday by getting another good result at Maidstone. Our form is OK.
“There have been a few disappointments, like the Braintree game at home.
“But I’d have taken seven points from 12 in that period and if we keep doing that between now and the end of the season we’ll be OK.”
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