Yeovil Town manager Mark Cooper has called on his players to get back to what they have been doing all season as they travel to third-placed Braintree Town this weekend.

The Glovers’ boss admitted that last weekend’s goalless draw at Slough Town was the first time this season he had deviated from his game plan all season, as they ground out a point to stop the rot of back-to-back defeats.

He revealed that full-back Alex Whittle had “a great chance” of being available having been taken off injured in that game and said the 3G surface in Berkshire was part of the reason he did not risk striker Olly Thomas, who has been suffering with a knee problem.

Speaking on Thursday, the boss said: “Saturday was the only time this season we have changed the message which was to go more direct because of the pitch. Until then the message has been let’s go and attack, we go and play and do our stuff. Sometimes it just does not happen.

When you consider Slough are 19 points unbeaten at home when the pitch is a difficult surface, we looked really solid and had a few bits and pieces but could not manage to get that goal. But, on the road at Slough it is a good point.

Asked whether he enjoyed the tactical battles, he added: “I would love to be 4-0 up with ten minutes to go and just relax and think about my Sunday dinner! But football is not like that, is it? At this moment, people will be looking at……and it is the Press’ job to build a negative narrative, that is their job because that gets headlines, it gets people asking ‘what is going on at Yeovil?’

But I think if you look at the bigger picture, Leicester were 12 points clear (in the Championship) six weeks ago and they are now behind Leeds United, Wrexham were second in (League Two) and have now won three in 12, Chesterfield had the chance to win the (National League) last night and conceded four goals (to lose 4-2 at FC Halifax). So it is about putting things in to perspective and my biggest job is to fill the players with confidence. It would be easy for the fans to berate the players and me, but we are trying our best and, ask the teams at the top of any division, it is not easy at the top because every team is desperate to beat Yeovil.

Jordan Young drops a shoulder. Picture courtesy of Gary Brown.

These players have done tremendously and it is my job to get Jordan Young back firing, get Sam Pearson back firing, Frank back on the goal trail, and fill them with the confidence, trust and love that we have for them. From our side it is positive and we have seven games left and we know what we have to do.

Every week, it is like they are playing against a super human effort because the opposition are desperate to beat us. That desire to beat Yeovil is huge and I would be the same if I were a player, but we have to deal with it. I think the supporters understand that and we have to make sure the players and the fans keep that tremendous bond and trust together, that is what will keep us going.

On the injury front, Cooper was already without influential full-back Michael Smith on top of long-term injury victims striker Rhys Murphy and Jake Hyde. On loan Bristol City striker Thomas was not in the squad and then left-back Whittle limped off after 65 minutes.

On Whittle, the manager said: “He has a really good chance for Saturday. But we are not a team that moans about injuries because we have a small, but really good squad. It is very rare we have anyone missing who is not on the bench. We have recruited the players and sometimes get injured, when they are back, they are back, but until the physio tells me they are fit we just get on with Saturday and I pick the best team I can.

On Thomas, he added: “Olly did not train on Thursday or Friday. He is still only 18 and he is growing rapidly and it is effecting his knees, so we have to be careful with him as he is not our player. He did not train and it was a 3G pitch (at Slough) so it did not make sense for us to try to aggravate that.

He bolstered his squad with the arrival of Yeovil-born full-back Brooklyn Genesini and striker Jahmari Clarke, who joined on loan from Swindon Town and Reading respectively until the end of the season.

Cooper said: “I thought Brooklyn looked energetic, quick and bright and that is what we wanted to do, we wanted to give the a lift by bringing in players who would give us that spark. The big fella up top looks like he has real potential. You always want boys who are desperate to play and (Charlie) was desperate to play. He probably should not have but tablets, strapping and he got through the game and then rest again, but we can only have boys in the team who are desperate to play for us. Look at the signings we have made, Brooklyn is from Yeovil and that aligns with us trying to make our recruitment as local as we can, the big fella from Reading was desperate to come and play some games. That is what we need and we want to try and keep it going.

New signing Brooklyn Genesini. Picture courtesy of YTFC.

Braintree were held to a goalless draw at home on Tuesday night by a W*ymouth side which they defeated on the south coast just 72 hours earlier. The Iron are unbeaten since New Year’s Day in National League South action and Cooper was full of praise for them for their performance at Huish Park last October, a game which Yeovil won 2-0.

He said: “They are one of the best teams we have played here and they are one of the only teams which have not changed how they play when they came here. Full credit to Angelo and his team for that. You can see last week they signed Freddie Sears who has been at West Ham, Colchester and Dagenham, tremendous player for this level. I am hopeful it is two teams that go and have a go at each other and it is a good spectacle rather than last week which was not a great spectacle.

It is difficult when two teams play each other Saturday and then Tuesday, they were at W*ymouth last Saturday and then again at Braintree on Tuesday. They were both really tight games, I watched them both and I am expecting a good game. I am hoping they are tired after that, I know they have had a bit of illness in the camp, but they have recruited some good players. They brought in Charlie Wakefield who Yeovil fans will know, so we are expecting a tough game.

I am sure Braintree would say we are not the underdogs because we are top of the league and 12 points in front of them, so they would say we are the clear favourites. That is for people like you to debate, all I know is we have to go and try and win the game.

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