Town boss Jamie Fullarton has called on his side to match their performance in last Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Morecambe when they host bottom-club Dover on Saturday (3pm).
The Shaymen have drawn seven and lost five league matches since beating Gateshead 1-0 on August 27, a run which includes a mixed bag of results, such as good points against high-flying Wrexham, Leyton Orient and Solihull, but disappointing defeats to Maidenhead, Havant and Waterlooville and Aldershot.
They have beaten Warrington in the FA Cup since that Gateshead win, but have fallen to 16th in the table after their impressive start of five wins from their first seven games,which earned Town boss Jamie Fullarton the August manager of the month award.
The Shaymen played well in their draw at League Two Morecambe at the weekend, and meet them again in the replay at The Shay on Tuesday.
But before then, they face a Dover side with only two victories this season, and none away from home.
“Every game, no matter who you play, whether they’re top or bottom, we’ll be looking, especially at home, to go and win the game,” said Fullarton.
“Whilst they have had a poor run of form, they’ve changed their manager, which sometimes gives you a bit of a spark.
“It’ll be a difficult game, for different reasons.
“But we’re at home, in-front of our own fans, and we’re hoping with that home support, we can produce a performance, that more often than not we have at home, which hopefully, with such a performance, gives us a better opportunity to gain all three points.”
Winger Matty Kosylo is available after being suspended for the Morecambe game.
Fullarton said there is an “ongoing management of an injury” to defender Ryan Sellers, but that it was too early to say if he would be fit for Saturday.
The Town boss also said there was no timescale as yet for when defender Michael Duckworth and midfielder James Berrett may return to action.
Of Town’s outfield players, only winger Mekhi McLeod is yet to start a match.
On his lack of game-time, Fullarton said: “I’m in the fortunate position to work with the players on a daily basis, so minutes on the pitch and team selection is based on not only what happens on a Saturday, but what happens from Monday to Friday.
“That’s where we’re at. It’s based on that, and unfortunately Mekhi hasn’t done enough to gain more minutes at the moment, so he has to do better.”
Town will go back to being favourites for the game after being underdogs at Morecambe, but Fullarton says there is always a level of expectation on his side.
“When you go and play any team, we’re task-focused in our preparation, geared towards the next game in terms of what we do and how the opposition are,” he said.
“That’s no different, whether it’s Morecambe or Dover.
“At home, whoever we play, there’ll probably be a level of expectation all round, but that’s not just outside but within the camp.
“That’s something we’ve responded well to since the start of the season, and even last year, when we’ve played at home, and we’ll be looking to continue that on Saturday.
“But to give us the best opportunity of getting three points, we’ve got to make sure we perform to the levels of Saturday.”
When asked if a repeat performance from the Morecambe game would be enough to win tomorrow, Fullarton said: “That’s a ‘what if’ question, which is a difficult one, because what if Dover play better than they have all season?
“But, that level of performance (at Morecambe) in terms of attitude and application is the bare minimum requirement of any player that plays at this football club.
“If every individual does that, then collectively, it gives us the best chance to win the game.”
Town didn’t perform like a side with only one win in their last 15 games at Morecambe, against whom they competed well, despite being a division lower.
“What do we want to become, what are we progressing to?” Fullarton said on the subject.
“Those levels of performance have to be reached on a weekly basis to be where we want to be, which is as high as possible.
“That’s what we’re striving for.
“Whether it’s a cup tie, or three points at stake in the league, especially at home, we’ve got to produce performances that not only give us the best chance of winning but get the fans behind us and encourage them to cheer us like they did on Saturday.”
Town have tended to compete well against the stronger National League teams so far this season, and have struggled against teams lower in the table, such as Maidenhead and Aldershot.
“The statistics don’t lie, but they don’t tell the full truth - where have you played them, when have you played them, what’s been the circumstances of the game?” said Fullarton.
“We played Maidstone and Dagenham and Redbridge, who are down near the bottom, at home, and beat them very convincingly.
“So you have to bring them to life those statistics. They’re two performances you mentioned that we weren’t happy with.
“And let’s not leave out Eastleigh, where I felt we still maybe had the Warrington replay from the Tuesday night in our legs, and second-half we were a little abject.
“And I suppose you could include Havant and Waterlooville in that also, from being comfortable and control in the game to an individual error costing us and changing the course of the game.
“But it doesn’t say that the next day. It just says ‘no points’.
“I think it’s human nature when a team plays a side that are above you - our record shows that against the top eight, I think we’ve only lost once.
“But it’s being able replicate and reproduce that on a weekly basis, and not allow other things within the game to impact or effect.”
Saturday’s National League fixtures:
Braintree Town v Solihull Moors
Barrow v Eastleigh
Boreham Wood v Ebbsfleet United
Chesterfield v Havant & Waterlooville
Dagenham & Redbridge v AFC Fylde
FC Halifax Town v Dover Athletic
Gateshead v Sutton United
Leyton Orient v Bromley
Maidenhead United v Harrogate Town - Match postponed
Maidstone United v Wrexham
Salford City v Aldershot Town