Houghton rallies Goole for crucial January

Toolstation NCEL Premier Division 

Goole AFC manager Simon Houghton

Simon Houghton says January is a big month for Goole AFC as they aim to move away from the bottom two.

Goole face five big fixtures against Golcar United (twice), Thackley, Handsworth and Emley and Houghton sees the next four weeks as a chance to drag other teams into danger.

The run of games begin with Golcar’s visit to the Victoria Pleasure Grounds this afternoon.

“We looked at the fixtures at December and we had some tough games, albeit they were postponed,” Houghton told Non League Yorkshire.

“We looked at them and thought it was going to be a tough month.

“We looked at them and thought if we could get three points (from December) then we would have been happy. 

“I want to win every game but you have to look at it realistically.

“We looked at the month of January and this is where we have to pick up points and a minimum of two wins.

“That’s the bare minimum and we have an opportunity to do that.

“We have to put pressure on ourselves because we have to start climbing the table.

“You get back-to-back wins and all of a sudden other teams are dragged in.

“That’s what we have got to do.

“We have to create a mini-league at the bottom and aim to be top of it.

“We have to try and have a strong 2023 and if we stay on course then we will have a strong 2023.”

The display against runaway leaders North Ferriby in the 2-0 defeat last week has given former Pontefract Collieries manager Houghton a lot of confidence.

“Against the league leaders we held our own,” he said.

“The result wasn’t a reflection on the game but it does reflect where we are. When our chances come we need to put them away.

“When you have a big crowd there you want a performance and the lads gave us a performance.

“In the second half we dominated and I think I can safely safe Ferriby came away really happy with the three points.

“That’s where we have needed to change the mentality. Maybe teams have come to the VPG and rocked up thinking ‘three points, easy day’?

“We have to be right on it (against Golcar).

“If we perform like we did against Ferriby and cut out silly mistakes then our chances of winning are very high but Golcar had a fantastic win at Albion Sports.”

Goole AFC manager Simon Houghton

Houghton and his assistant Leon Sewell were appointed in early November and have overseen seven league games so far.

Two wins – against Frickley Athletic and Yorkshire Amateur – have been yielded and the six points have ensured Goole remain in touch third bottom Bottesford Town.

Houghton says he knew progress would be slow.

“Initially it was very difficult because we lost a lot of players in the same area (upfront),” he said.

“We lost all our strikers so that really put us on the back-foot from a recruitment point of view as we were putting square pegs in round holes.

“It was a struggle but we had a recruitment drive and got five-or-six players in to bolster the squad.

“We’ve added one-or-two since and we have got good squad depth at the moment.

“We have been getting more-or-less 20 to every training session which is fantastic.

“We know we are on the right path and we know how we want to play.

“Footballing-wise we are trying to play the right way.

“It is an unforgiving league. You can have lots of possession but it is about what you do in each box.

“From a control and playing football perspective, I think we are doing really well.

“The attitude of the players has been first class. The attitude and work rate has been there so from a management perspective you want players to work hard and give everything they have got.

“We just need to start conceding less and scoring more which I know is a cliche but we need to start picking up points.”

Houghton has also been delighted with Goole’s supporters.

“We have some big games at home and the crowd are so passionate and they get behind the team,” he said.

“We have to repay that with performances and picking up points.

“This club needs to stay in the Premier Division and we feel we have a squad and group of players capable of doing that.

“The fans will get behind us and they have seen the positivity we have brought around the club.

“Their support for the players and how they support is fantastic.

“We need that to continue and we need them to be our 12th man.”

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