Saints need to rediscover pre-Forest Green form says Ian Allinson after derby day defeat
- Credit: NIGEL FRENCH/PA
Ian Allinson believes St Albans City's exploits in the early part of the season have earned themselves a reputation - and wants his players to quickly understand that teams will raise their game when they play them.
That was certainly the case for their first match of 2022 as Hemel Hempstead Town fought to a deserved 3-1 victory in the National League South clash at Clarence Park.
The Tudors bit hard into tackles and forced City into mistakes time and time again, and if Saints are to have a successful end to the season, the boss needs his team to up their efforts to what they were prior to the FA Cup shock over Forest Green Rovers.
Allinson said: "We’ve built ourselves a reputation with our performances in the first half of the season but we have to now go to another level.
"If not, then teams are going to catch us up.
"They won’t come here and let us play our football and do what we want to do.
"We have to earn the right to win a game of football and we didn’t do that.
"We had too many players wanting to pass back when we should be thinking of going forward.
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"We were a little bit too safe in our performance and we’re better than that."
Their preparations weren't helped by an outbreak of COVID-19 in the camp, something that forced the postponement of two games and shut the club down for a week.
That was an excuse and not something that affected the outcome of the derby.
He said: "I’m not going to blame the players for a lack of effort. Seven players have had COVID and two staff so it was the right decision to call the games off and close the club down for a week.
"We came back on Thursday and did a session on Saturday but I don’t know how long it will take to get the players back to the level they were prior to the Forest Green game but we need to do.
"We haven’t defended very well for all three goals.
"Sometimes we left ourselves exposed and the opening goal was probably one of the first we’ve conceded from a set-piece all season.
"I look at how they have defended and they have defended unbelievably well. They have put bodies in front of the ball and their keeper has made an unbelievable save at 1-0 in the first half.
"But if you concede goals like we’ve done, you’re not going to win games of football."
City remain outside of the play-off places and now face a heavy period which could make or break their aspirations.
Allinson said: "It’s a big 10 weeks in terms of where we are. Do we need to bring some bodies in to strengthen us? I think we do.
"All over the park we looked a bit leggy, the sharpness wasn’t really there and that is what we have to look at.
"It’s a difficult period anyway as its Christmas and new year but I’m not sure where COVID-19 has left us.
"I don’t want to make excuses because if we nullify our mistakes, our performance wasn’t [worthy of] a 3-1 defeat.
"But we have been and we have to take it on the chin and accept it."