GARY Martindale admits that Witton Albion’s display in midweek didn’t deserve a reward but has backed them to fight back when Gainsborough Trinity visit tomorrow.

A 3-1 defeat at Stafford is their third from four away games in the Northern Premier League’s top-flight this season.

However their record on home turf has been much better.

“Our lads were hurting after Tuesday’s game,” said Witton’s assistant manager.

“We told them they hadn’t done enough and they didn’t like it.

“But I’ll stick my neck out and say they’ll do what they have so often and put it right.

“And that means being brighter all around from the first whistle on Saturday.”

While there was an element of fortune to Stafford’s first two goals at Marston Road – goalkeeper Greg Hall allowed Theo Bailey-Jones’ shot to squirm through is fingers before Michael Wilson unwittingly deflected Tom Thorley’s shot into the net for the second – Albion didn’t pose a threat at the other end.

James Foley’s goal made it 2-1 before substitute Lewis Banks settled the outcome following a counter-attack with four minutes left.

Martindale added: “We changed our formation after half-time to try and contain them and it worked.

“They then got a lucky goal and it’s hard from there for us to get back into it.

“However we then scored and it looked like we might nick a draw during a spell when we got more balls into their box.

“While we pushed forward, there was always a risk of them getting another on the break.”

Gainsborough are unbeaten now in seven matches following an 8-2 thrashing of Chasetown in an FA Cup replay on Tuesday.

They have won four of their past five fixtures in the Northern Premier League too.

It’s a start that has persuaded bookmakers to install them as second-favourites, behind South Shields, to win the Premier Division title.

Martindale said: “We’ll need to start better than we did against Stafford.

“We’re much more effective when we play at a higher tempo, and that’s one of the messages we’ll be reinforcing to the players.

“Gainsborough will challenge for promotion – there’s no two ways about it; they’ve got everything they need in order to do that.

“The challenge for us is to come up with a plan to stop them doing what they’re good at.”