Feast of festive points
Reporter: MATTHEW CHAMBERS
Date online: 11 December 2012
AN EXAMINATION of the fixtures list says everything about why Athletic's management are stressing the need to stay focused.
The games between now and the Nottingham Forest FA Cup tie are clearly ripe for seasonal points-plucking — particularly if Athletic can keep up the form that tore Colchester apart at the weekend.
Paul Dickov’s side are in action five times in npower League One before the Forest game on January 5.
Here’s what they will have to contend with:
Swindon are performing short of expectations in 10th spot. Guided by manager Paolo di Canio, the pre-season third-favourites for the title have won only three times in the last dozen outings and look vulnerable.
Yeovil had a healthy start. But though they have won matches recently, the Glovers will be looked upon as at least a point in waiting at Huish Park.
Doncaster beat Athletic at home but were comprehensively beaten in the FA Cup at Boundary Park. Rovers return on Boxing Day in a contest Latics will relish.
Crewe were on the receiving end of a battering at Gresty Road in Athletic’s most dominant display of the season and can’t feel confident about the return leg.
And Scunthorpe's superb show in the first half away from home only resulted in a point in September. Athletic will carry on where they left off — attacking and pushing for goals — against the Iron on New Year's Day.
Though opposition managers will play up their chances, Dickov has seen again what his team can do when they play the way he wants: solid at the back, biting into tackles and springing forward at pace.
The problem has been that replicating that style consistently has been way beyond Athletic’s reach.
So despite excellent recent results, Dickov won’t let anyone rest on their laurels.
“Our fundamentals are working hard,” said striker Matt Derbyshire, who plays his last game against Swindon before heading back to Forest.
“If we keep on playing as we have been doing in the last few weeks, we will not have a problem in moving up the division.”
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