Rouse challenges Ponte players to climb the table

NPL Division One East 

Pontefract Collieries manager Craig Rouse

Craig Rouse has challenged his Pontefract Collieries players to start “climbing the table”. 

Revitalised Ponte – who visit Yorkshire Amateur tomorrow – suffered an FA Cup hangover after the epic battle with FC Halifax Town and this time last week they were second bottom.

However, the Rob Guilfoyle-inspired defeat of Hebburn Town transformed the situation and the narrow loss at North East giants Marske United in midweek showed how much improved Rouse’s side are.

“When you look (at the table) it doesn’t look pretty, when you looked at it a week ago it looked even worse,” Rouse told Non League Yorkshire.

“It doesn’t make for good viewing but there will be a few clubs down there saying the same as us that they don’t feel they should be down there.

“It is your actions that get you out of there, not your thoughts.

“We can sit there and feel sorry for ourselves and think we shouldn’t be where we are or we can down to work and business and make sure we start climbing the table and pull ourselves out of there.”

Asked about targets for the rest of the season, Rouse said: “Putting some respect on the league table, putting ourselves in a position in the league table that we think we’re worthy of.

“When you look at the table there isn’t too many points between the teams.

“They’re all grouped up so one run can put you back in the top half.

“We want to make sure when we finish the season that we finish in a respectful position.

“I’ve gone on record to say I think this group of players is good enough to climb the league table.

“That doesn’t get you up the table, you have to do the hard yards and we have to put on another 20 performances on like we did against Hebburn and Marske.

“If we do that, we believe we can climb the table.

“It is about making sure we put ourselves in a position we think is respectable and then we can look back on the season and know we faced Halifax, had a good cup run, brought some finance into the club and finished in a respectable league position.

“Then we look to next year and focus on moving forward.”

Debutant loanee Rob Guilfoyle on the attack for Pontefract Collieries in the 2-1 win over Hebburn Town. Picture: The Dribbing Code

Title-chasing Marske have not lost at home in two years and Ponte pushed them all the way.

It took a last minute goal to break their hearts.

“It speaks a lot when you see the celebrations of their management team and the players when they scored,” he said.

“The timing was a big factor for the celebrations but when you look at them, they sort of knew they had got away with one.

“It was a nip and tuck game which could have gone either way.

“We missed an open net five minutes before which would have sealed a good performance.

“We were a couple of minutes away from getting out of there with a clean sheet and good performance.

“Unfortunately, from a referee and linesman mistake as the kid was offside before the corner, they scored.

“It came back in and we switched off momentarily and they managed to score.

“Overall we’ll focus on the performance and to see that level of commitment and togetherness is pleasing and it shows we are moving in the right direction.”

Eli Hey recently left Pontefract Collieries

Since the Halifax games, Ben Gordon has gone to Yorkshire Amateur and strikers Eli Hey and Vaughan Redford have left the club.

On the incoming front, Nick Guest and Bradford (Park Avenue) loanee Rob Guilfoyle have joined.

Although signed before the Halifax games, Joao Rangel and Jack Shepherd have been able to play regularly in the last month so have been like new signings.

Speaking before Redford’s exit was announced, Rouse doesn’t rule out further new faces.

“We’re probably looking one-or-two more bodies,” he said.

“The squad is quite stretched so we need to improve the strength-in-depth.

“One player (Vaughan Redford) has left the club this week but I’ll go on record saying that we knew we would lose one-or-two after the FA Cup run.

“When we did the rebuild it was about making sure we brought the right characters into the group who complement the atmosphere we have in the changing room.

“Joao had already been brought into the group, so had Jack Shepherd but they hadn’t seen much football due to being cup-tied.

“We knew what they brought but it was a case of getting them playing regularly and enjoying their football.

“They’re now in the side and showing why they have been brought to the football club.

“Rob Guilfoyle has come in from Bradford (Park Avenue) and he has hit the ground running.”

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