Steve Claridge admits he will be looking for a big reaction from his side when Whites take on Team Solent for the second time in six days tomorrow at the Ray Mac (Saturday 5th March, kick off 3pm).
Following the 3-1 defeat at Test Park in the Sydenhams Wessex League Cup quarter-final on Monday night, the Salisbury FC manager knows it is a big day in the Premier Division and wants his players to be aware of it too.
“We spoke about it all in training on Thursday night,” said Steve. “The players are now aware of the task ahead.
“Team Solent are up there with the best teams in the league. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they finish up in the top three at the end of the season. I think they are the best team we have played this year.”
While Whites are seeking to get back to winning ways after seeing their string of consecutive victories end at 17 matches, nearest challengers Blackfield and Langley go to improving Moneyfields as AFC Portchester travel to sixth-placed Sholing.
“They are two big games, the same as ours,” added Steve. “And we need to get back to the levels we were at before some recent patchy performances at Bournemouth and Verwood.
“There were reasons, with the pitch atrocious at Bournemouth and the conditions tough at Verwood but there were no excuses at Solent.
“We made some stupid mistakes and we have looked in training at the goals we conceded. The main thing we need to remember is that we have got to defend when we haven’t got the ball.
“Of course I want to win games but I don’t mind losing if players reach the level we require. For some of them at Solent, that wasn’t the case.
“Now I am looking for a reaction. If they want to be in contention for the FA Vase team at Hereford the following week, then I will get it. If they apply themselves, we will be fine.”
Calum Brockway came through a gentle work-out at training on Thursday but is still short of full fitness, while Brandon Mundy, who made an encouraging return at Team Solent after injury, enjoyed a full session.
Callum Hart will also be back in contention for a place, though Eddie Perrett is unavailable again, away on holiday.