We must do better against the struggling teams, says Hallen boss Paul Owen
HALLEN manager Paul Owen is questioning the attitude of his players following a series of below-par performances against struggling teams.
Although Owen's charges have established themselves in the top six of the Toolstation League Premier Division this season, they have found the going hard against sides at the wrong end of the table.
Lowly Barnstaple and Radstock have taken points off Hallen recently, while they struggled to overcome First Division whipping boys Shrewton in the Les Phillips Cup last month.
Owen is fast running out of patience and is demanding an improvement at lowly Bridport tomorrow.
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He said: "They are a great bunch of lads, but their attitude is all wrong when they play teams at the bottom end of the league. When it comes to digging out a result on a Tuesday night at Radstock, they are not prepared to do what it takes.
"You can get away with it when two or three are off their game, but not when it's eight or nine. We want to get ourselves up into the top three, but we keep shooting ourselves in the foot."
Cadbury Heath boss Andy Black is refusing to concede defeat to Bishop Sutton in the title race, despite Tuesday's 2-1 defeat to the Premier Division leaders.
Sutton may be six points clear at the top, but defiant Black said: "It is not over yet. This is February and squeaky bum time is still to come. There are 15 games left, Sutton have some difficult matches coming up and a lot can change between now and the end of the season."
Bishop Sutton boss Lee Lashenko knows that, were his side to slip-up at fourth-placed Street this weekend, Cadbury Heath could take advantage by beating Ilfracombe in Devon.
He told The Post: "Street away is a big game for both sides. They are one of four or five clubs still in with a chance of winning the league and we can do ourselves a huge favour if we beat them."
Heath welcome back Sam Duggan and Mark Reynolds, while Sutton are at full-strength.
Bitton manager John Lester insists last Saturday's 3-1 win at Barnstaple will count for nothing when the Premier Division's basement team visit the Recreation ground for a rematch.
He said: "Barnstaple are down the bottom fighting for their lives and they'll want to do well for their new manager. We have to go into the game with the same mentality we showed at their place."
Jon Crowley, Mark Thompson and Matt Knapman are all missing and Lester joked: "They made it all the way to Buckland in midweek, but can't get to a home game on a Saturday!"
Bristol Manor Farm may be safely positioned in mid-table, but manager John Black insisted his young team cannot afford to lose at home to Wells City.
Beaten in their last two games, Manor Farm have played more games than anyone else and Black said: "We have to make sure we don't get sucked into trouble.
"Two defeats can quickly become four or five and, before you know it, you are in trouble. We have not scored in our last two games and we need to get back to putting our chances away."
Winterbourne United have re-signed goalkeeper Tom Sheppard from Tytherington and he is included in the squad at home to Radstock.
United may be flirting with relegation in their first season in the Western League, but club spokesman Kevin Evans said the players are determined to stay up for long-serving chairman Robyn Maggs.
Second-placed Brislington have ground to make up on Bishop Sutton after being held to a goalless draw at Bridport in midweek and Jeff Meacham's side will be looking to return to winning ways at home to Buckland Athletic.
Tom Godsell returns, but striker Frank Gingell is serving a three-match ban.
Meacham's side are four points behind Sutton and have played a game more, but he remains defiant. He said: "We're still in there fighting. We'll try to win as many games as we can and see where it takes us."
Hengrove Athletic manager Jamie Hillman believes his table-topping team can do themselves a "massive favour" by beating First Division promotion rivals Sherborne.
"Victory will keep the Bristol side at the top of the table and Hillman said: "Beating Sherborne would be a huge boost to confidence. But it is the same for them and we have to concentrate on getting our performance right rather than looking at the table.
"It is probably down to four or five teams now and we just have to keep on winning. I think we have the mentality to do that."
Hengrove will be without injured striker Joe Parsons.
Almondsbury UWE are champing at the bit after going two weeks without a game. Defeated by Chard last time out, David Hillier's side are keen to return to winning ways at Wellington.
Portishead boss David Pettitt hopes to have a few more defensive options at his disposal for the visit of Chard. Centre-halves George Parsons and Rich Gill are set to return, while Mark Mapstone could be back on the bench. Lee Brice is away visiting family in China and Pettitt has called up Will Cook from the reserves.
Roman Glass St George joint-manager Roger Hudd is demanding "fight, commitment and character" from his players at Cheddar tomorrow. Without a win since before Christmas, the Bristol side are missing the suspended Jamie Johnson and Nathan Church, who is ill.