Robbie Nightingale is optimistic as Cambridge City hit an upward curve
Robbie Nightingale wants the taste of victory to become a habit that Cambridge City struggle to kick.
Sam Bantick scored twice in a 2-1 win over Market Drayton in the FA Trophy, preliminary round last Sunday to make it three wins a row for City, following a 13-1 Cambs Invitation Cup success over Wisbech St Mary and a 1-0 victory against Grays in the league.
“It’s four wins out of five, although with the very big blip of the Histon game sandwiched in between the four wins,” said City boss Nightingale, referring to the Velocity League Cup defeat to their landlords.
“We’ve shuffled the pack and have players now who want to do what we’re asking them to do.
“You can tell as the attitude and application they are putting in on the pitch is showing through.
“It’s three completely different performances but three wins. We’ve had to dig in in one and dominate another.
“And then, from being 1-0 up to drawing and losing our keeper when conceding, it was quite a big moment and for us to come through that and show the mental toughness and performance levels to go on and win it was really good.”
That was in the 59th minute against Market Drayton on Sunday, when Jamie Head was injured as Levi Hunter equalised Bantick’s
first-half goal. But the City man was to go on to score again just seven minutes later, sending them through to a first qualifying round match at home to Needham Market.
“We now have two centre-forwards in Tony Burnett and Sam Bantick that never stop running,” said Nightingale.
“When you are on top in games, you’ve got to make that pressure and dominance show.
“The last three games we’ve done that, and it comes from hard work and two front lads putting a back four under immense pressure.
“We can play good football, but it’s about combining everything together and creating that performance.
“When you’re under the cosh, you’re in a good shape, hard to beat and hard to break down. But when you’re on top, it’s getting in good areas to carve out and take those opportunities.”
City have reshaped their squad since the start of the season, with club captain Adam Watkins and Lewis Rolfe the most recent departures, while Mikey Davis has switched to St Neots on a dual registration basis.
The benefits are being seen on the pitch as, after a patchy start to the campaign, the past month has been a lot more encouraging.
“If you take out the second half against Histon which was pretty uneventful for us -we didn’t turn up - it’s been a good month and a good five games,” said Nightingale.
“But we can’t hide away that the second half was so disappointing against Histon, it’s almost kicked the group on a bit.
“The disappointment has driven us a bit more and thankfully we’ve had three wins and we’re in the next round of the Trophy with some prize money for the club. It’s been a positive week.”
Nightingale is looking onwards and upwards, and the next stop is a home clash with second-from-bottom Brentwood Town this Saturday (October 19).
And it is fair to say that City have been a side that has been able to build a head of steam in the past.
“What’s happened has happened and we can’t affect that now,” said Nightingale.
“We strive to win again on Saturday. If the performance levels are where they were last week, and the week before, and we get in good habits which we carry on then hopefully we will get a positive result.
“The five games and three wins on the bounce count for nothing in a new game, it’s all about the next one.
“Confidence is good, we’re scoring goals, we’re winning games.
“It’s positive times but we’ve got to be careful not to get too excited by it, keep a level head around what we’ve done and keep trying to get better.”
City played in yellow shirts against Market Drayton as part of the support for Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and South Lincolnshire Mind (CPSL Mind), which is the club and supporters’ trust charity partner this year.
It was a good day for the club as they managed to raise £1,215 for CPSL Mind.
Histon were also in FA Trophy action last Saturday, but were held to a 0-0 draw by Corby Town and face a replay in Northamptonshire tonight (Wednesday).