Gainsborough Trinity boss Curtis Woodhouse challenges in-form players to make play-offs

Alex Wiles strikes the winner. PHOTO: John Rudkin
Alex Wiles strikes the winner. PHOTO: John Rudkin

Ambitious manager Curtis Woodhouse has set his in-form players a tough challenge - win 14 of your last 17 league matches to clinch an NPL play-off spot.

Woodhouse challenged his players as they stretched their unbeaten run away from the relegation zone to nine matches by beating second-placed Basford United at the Northolme on Saturday.

Alex Wiles hit the winner with a 77th-minute volley to confirm a remarkable transformation at Trinity under Woodhouse.

When he arrived in late October they were in the relegation zone, but now after an upheaval of the squad the manager has instilled a self-belief in his squad and is setting his sights high.

Woodhouse, who will take his side to Buxton on Saturday, was quick to praise his players for the way they have adapted to the changes since he arrived.

Woodhouse also heaped players for their adaptability over the past three months.

"Only three or four players remain in the squad from the Ashton game (Woodhouse's first in charge in late October) so there has been a big turnaround,” he said.

"It has been difficult to turnaround the players and on top of that get results, so fair play to the lads, they have adapted well.

"We have now got a bit of breathing pace at the bottom. We are too good to go down now and barring a miracle we will be safe.

“The lads have been given a different aim now - without putting any pressure on them, there are 17 games to go and I think we need to win 14 to get in the play-offs, otherwise it would be a dead season. That is the aim.

"I believe in putting pressure on yourself as a manager and making demands of those around you, whether it is coaches, players and supporters, who have got a massive part to play.”

Woodhouse, who had made the play-off challenge ahead of kick-off, warned Basford would post the toughest challenge yet to his new-look side but still predicted a win.

Trinity were also up against three former players - Matthew Thornhill, Dominic Roma and Ashley Worsfold.

On the half-hour Trinity keeper George Willis makes a great save to prevent Worsfold from putting Basford ahead.

At the other end Will Thornton was inches away from giving the home side the lead in the 57th minute when Kieran Preston kept the ball out.

But after Wiles hit the winner from the one moment of quality in a scrappy game spoiled by a gusty wind, Woodhouse praised the character and desire of his squad who “stuck together”.

“We have got what I can’t coach – that desire and work ethic. It is either in you or not and the lads have it. That’s all credit to them.

“Alex came up with a little bit of magic. Whatever the X factor is, we have got it in that dressing room. We believe we can beat anyone.

“There was a great atmosphere. I feel that altogether we are on the march here and this group of players could end up anywhere.”