Keep your performance levels up, demands Braintree boss Alan Devonshire

BRAINTREE Town boss Alan Devonshire says the club’s battles with high-flying Gateshead this season must be the benchmark for his team to follow for the rest of the campaign, starting at home to Stockport County, today (3pm).

The Iron missed out on penalty kicks, 4-3, against The Heed in the FA Trophy on Tuesday evening, having drawn 1-1 with the north east side after extra time.

That came after last Saturday’s 2-2 draw in the original tie at the Gateshead International Stadium, and an identical result at the same venue, in the league, back in November.

Devonshire’s men return to Blue Square Bet Premier League action when they host the struggling Hatters, and Devonshire believes a similar standard to the one his part-timers displayed against (manager) Ian Bogie’s professional outfit will stand them in good stead for the rest of the season.

“Gateshead are a team in fourth position that are going for the play-offs and they reached the semi-finals of the FA Trophy last season,” said former Hampton & Richmond manager, Devonshire.

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“I know their manager and chairman well and I know what the club’s budget is and at the end of the day, we have played them three times and drawn three times really.

“That has got to be the benchmark for us for the rest of the season.”

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Braintree go into the game against Jim Gannon’s side having suffered just one defeat in their last seven games in all competitions

In contrast, the Cheshire side have won only one of their last 12 league games and are 15 points behind the Iron who are 12 points off Devonshire’s 50-point safety target.

Stockport’s season has not gone according to plan, with high-profile manager Dietmar Hamann, recruited in the summer, lasting only a matter of months before being sacked.

“I saw them against Luton last week and they were unfortunate to get a result,” said Devonshire.

“They are big and physical and pacy down the wings so it is going to be a tough game for us.

“We have got a game today and on Tuesday at Fleetwood, we had a light training session on Thursday evening and I will be looking to mix it (selection) up a bit.”

Devonshire is targeting new blood in an attempt to keep the momentum going at the Amlin Stadium and has previously stated that he would be looking to bring in fresh faces during January.

However, he may have to look at new targets with the midweek trophy defeat costing his club �6,000 prize money.

“Had we won on Tuesday I was looking to bring someone in but I am not sure now,” said Devonshire.

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