Oakham United boss Ryan Hunnings wants his side to start turning plaudits into points as they target a rise up the United Counties League Division One table.
Hunnings’ revamped charges have received plenty of praise since the former joint Huntingdon Town boss took over at the Lonsdale Meadow helm at the end of last month.
Oakham have given a good account of themselves against the much-fancied trio of Pinchbeck United, Blackstones and Potton in recent weeks.
But they now a massive home match on Saturday against a Long Buckby side who are one place and eight points above United in the Division One standings.
Hunnings said: “It’s a must-win game for us. We have had a lot of praise from the last three managers about how well we have played.
“They have all said we’re better than our league position suggests, but this week we have really got to turn up and start from the first whistle.
“We need to mould our second half performances against Pinchbeck and Blackstones and the first half at Potton into one this weekend.
“When I took the job I said I wanted us to be horrible to play against, but now we have got to add the flair on top of that.
“We have stabilised, stopped conceding a lot of goals and we’ve been competitive in the last three games.
“But we now need to start hitting the back of the net because Saturday is massively important to us.
“The players have bought into what I’m trying to do. We have played some fantastic football that has been a pleasure to watch, but it has not quite clicked for us in front of goal yet.
“We have had to make a lot of changes and, even in the professional game, that takes time. Unfortunately we’re having our pre-season in the middle of the competitive season.
“But we have now attracted good quality players which in turn will help out the reserves because I want an ethos of everyone being together.
“I said to the chairman when I took over to judge me on performances and not results to start with, but we’ve now got to start moving up the table.
“We are not too far adrift and a couple of good results will make all the difference.”
Oakham went down to a 4-0 away defeat against a Potton side on Saturday who Hunnings labelled as ‘the best side he had seen this season.’
A battling first half performance from Oakham saw them fall behind to Gary Ansell-Carter’s 14th minute opener following a defensive mix-up.
They then kept the Royals at bay until six minutes into the second half when Daniel Webb doubled the home side’s advantage.
James Sage struck Potton’s third four minutes later before Nick Bines completing the scoring with 10 minutes left.
Hunnings commented: “We held them and frustrated them in the first half, but they’ve scored two great goals after the break. They were the best side I have seen this season and I expect them to be right up there at the end.
“We defended superbly, but made one mistake for their opening goal. I couldn’t fault any of the lads though. They battled and worked hard and every one gave 100 per cent.”
Hunnings has strengthened his managerial team this week by recruiting ex-Langtoft boss AJ Carr as his assistant.
Carr was reserve team manager at Langtoft when Hunnings was in charge of the first team and is a welcome addition to the Oakham ranks.
Hunnings enthused: “I know him well and trust him. It’s fantastic to have someone alongside me again because I was starting to feel quite isolated.”