SOMETIMES it’s nice to have a break. It allows you to recharge the batteries. It allows you some breathing space to review what has gone on. Most importantly it gives you some time to prepare for your next challenge.

Hopefully, Tommy Wright and the team have made the most of the week off handed to us following our annual early exit from the FA Cup. Having turned in three poor performances in a row, failing to score in those games and having looked pretty disorganised in doing so, as much as cup progression was needed, so too was this break.

Despite one decent run of results last season which briefly left us dreaming of the playoffs, all too often during Tommy’s reign we have sleep-walked our way through one bad game to another. All too often, a good performance is quickly forgotten when it is followed up by poor ones. Given the nature of the National League North calendar in the blink of an eye we’re in October, we’re a quarter of the way through the season and all too easily we have found ourselves once again looking at the wrong dotted line on the league table.

As things stand, we’re probably a bit lucky there are three teams that have made a worse start to the season than us. I’ve seen comments online from fans of teams that have played us refer to us as relegation fodder. If we don’t sort this mess out sooner rather than latter, those observations may be correct.

Saturday’s game at FC United of Manchester gives us the opportunity to play one of those sides that is apparently worse than us so far this season. Is it a good thing? Second-bottom Southport battered us with Tommy admitting we got a bit lucky to get a point. That Southport side have only accumulated one more point than bottom-placed FCUM so there is nothing to take for granted.

While Southport weren’t expected to be knocking around the lower reaches of the league, FCUM were. They show all the hallmarks of being one of the worst sides in the league. After five league games at home they have yet to win. Teams that have left Broadhurst Park with three points are not sides tearing the league apart: Ashton United (14th), Boston (8th) and Leamington (12th).

Before the season started, this fixture would have been highlighted as ‘must get three points’. Of course, that was supposed to be in aid of our playoff push. Despite only being a quarter of the way through the season this game is still very much a must win but the need for three points is for a much different reason now. We might only be in October but this game feels like it has Leamington written all over it.

I’m sure some might think that is hyperbole, but if we go to FCUM and don’t show more quality than our hosts, then we’re in big trouble. Having looked disjointed, unorganised and to be brutally honest not very fit against Stockport, we’ve had all the time in the world to sort it out before this game. If we trained last Saturday – a minimum expectation for me – it would mean we have had five sessions to prepare for this game. Tommy said after the Stockport game that the excuses have to stop. He’s spot on. If we don’t out-perform our hosts on Saturday and come away with at least an unlucky point that flatters the home side, there really is no excuse.