O’Neill keen for more on travels

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Russ O’Neill says that improving his Alfreton Town side’s away form is among his top priorities before the season is out as the Reds continue their attempts to secure safety in the National League North.

A 4-0 defeat at Gloucester City last Saturday was the 13th loss in 18 away games this season, whereas Alfreton have only lost four times at the Impact Arena.

And with work still to be done to make absolutely sure his side won’t still get dragged into the relegation dogfight below them, O’Neill wants to see improvements on the road.

He said: “We’ve only got three away games left to play but we can do ourselves a lot of favours by replicating our home form where possible. It’s been a theme throughout the season.

“Last Saturday was an example of a game where we played well for a lot of it but when their second goal went in our heads dropped and the final scoreline was probably a bit harsh.

“But it’s happened before and it’s something we need to work on.

“After conceding early we regrouped and got to half-time in decent shape, including having had a shot cleared off the line, and then in the second-half we got Gloucester on the back foot and they had to ride the storm, but the second goal seemed to kill us.”

Two home games are now on the cards for the Reds with the visit of Bradford Park Avenue on Saturday and then Stalybridge Celtic next Tuesday night.

Bradford sat just below Alfreton in the table ahead of Wednesday night’s trip to Darlington, while Stalybridge are 14 points from safety and look doomed to relegation, although they do have up to four games in hand on the sides above them.

O’Neill said: “Bradford are in a similar position to us and will be desperate to get the three points to leapfrog us in the table and also do their own chances of avoiding the drop a lot of good.

“The gap between ourselves and the bottom three is nine points and we need to keep stretching it, as we have done since I took over when it was only one point.”

O’Neill added goalkeeper Jordan Wright to the ranks on transfer deadline day, the youngster joining on loan from Nottingham Forest.

The Reds boss added: “We needed some cover for Fabien Speiss and this was our last chance to get some in. It would have been foolish to take a chance on Fabien staying fit and then be caught out.

“Jordan played for Forest in a reserve game on Friday night so didn’t feature in our squad on Saturday, but I’m hoping he’ll provide good cover and also competition for the jersey between now and the end of the season.”

With O’Neill now having been at the Reds helm for nearly two months, he says the transition from long-time assistant to Nicky Law to being the man in sole charge has been a good, if somewhat hectic one.

He added: “It’s been a big difference, everything multiplies ten-fold compared to if you’re an assistant, right from the playing side of things to the amount of e-mails and off-field work you have to do.

“But I’m really enjoying it and the players have responded really well. We haven’t changed too much as I haven’t had to.

“We’ll see how things go for the rest of the season but I don’t envisage having to make wholesale changes in the summer. Continuity is important and whilst it will be good to be able to put my own stamp on things, I’ve been happy with the player so far.”