Leam Richardson is aiming to make sure Accrington Stanley steal a march on their relegation rivals at Exeter City tonight.
The promotion-chasing Grecians don’t have the best of records at St James’ Park, having won once there since mid-October, and Stanley are out to exploit that and get a much-needed three points in their battle to climb up the table.
Then Richardson hopes he can sit back and let Saturday’s result take their course.
Stanley are currently two points above the drop zone after a run of one win in 13 league games but there have been marked improvements in the last three games where they have picked up two draws – and it could easily have been two wins.
“Exeter are a strong team, they have some good players but we know they haven’t had great results at home and that’s the message we have got through to the lads,” said Richardson.
“We want to start at a high tempo, silence the crowd a bit, and we know we need to get some wins on the board with the games coming thick and fast now.
“It’s massive as, if you get three points on a Friday, you can relax a bit on Saturday and just watch the results come through.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to put the pressure on those around us.
“We can’t affect what other teams do and all we can do is concentrate on ourselves as, if we win our games, it’s irrelevant what others do as it’s in our hands.”
The Reds boss knows that the additions of experienced defender Mark Hughes and Nicky Hunt and left-sided player Lawrie Wilson in January have boosted his side and he expects the impact they have made to be seen in the results soon.
“It does take a period for players to settle in and get used to new team-mates but they have done that quite well,” said the Reds boss.
“I have had a great response from them but it’s also about the experience and advice they add during the week.
“Mark has played a lot of games; he is powerful in both boxes, he is a good footballer and offers experience which we needed.
“We did have a tough December where a couple of loan players returned to their clubs and injuries meant our hands were tied but we have now added some strength in depth and it’s shown in the last few games. I would like a couple more players through the door before the loan window shuts to make us stronger but we are continuing to build and you can see we are a lot better.”
Richardson sprang a surprise by bringing James Gray back into the starting line-up on Saturday after a season in and out of the squad so far.
And the striker came up with the goal in the 1-1 draw with promotion-chasing Southend as he repaid the manager’s faith in him.
“Everyone in the squad is in my mind and James has shown how you have to be patient and then make an impact,” said Richardson.
“James has conducted himself well in the weeks before Saturday and had scored a few goals in some friendly games we have played. He has come in daily and worked hard and took his opportunity when it came. Now the shirt is his to lose.
“We are not blessed with strength in depth but I think most of the squad have had game-time so far this season and they will probably be called upon again during the second part of the season.
“If James continues to do what he did on Saturday he will play more games than he won’t and all the rest of the squad can look at what James has done.”
Richardson, 33, is a positive person and is sure the Reds will climb the table in the 15 games they have left.
“There is a lot of football to be played, a lot of balls to be kicked and so there is no negative slant.
“There is a long way to go and, as a squad, we need to carry on working hard, continue believing in what we do and you have seen in League Two that there is nothing to fear.
“If you continue to apply yourself well and look after yourself, we will get the wins and we will come through and get our rewards.”
Craig Lindfield (ankle) is out while Charlie Barnett sits out the second game of his ban.