Gavin Cowan admits to a shift in AFC Telford mindset
AFC Telford United have discovered a winning formula over the Christmas period and Gavin Cowan admits he had a shift in mentality when it comes to securing three points.
Seven points from nine has been a fine response to their disappointing FA Trophy exit and Cowan will hope there is more joy ahead as the Bucks look to kick off 2020 in style, writes Lewis Cox.
Telford aim to complete a festive double-header over Alfreton, the side they beat convincingly on Boxing Day when Ryan Barnett played the role of chief tormentor.
Unbeaten in three and with three clean sheets to boot, Telford head into the new year in positive spirits and looking up the National League North table rather than over their shoulder.
Cowan likes to keep an ‘equilibrium’ and not let his emotions swing one way or the other after victory or defeat – he did, however, admit a change in focus when it comes to winning games.
The boss said: “I’d just take a win. Alfreton and Chester games were very good for all concerned because the performances were there as well as the result.
“That’s great, but ultimately it’s about winning.
“That’s maybe where, as staff, we’ve changed our mindsets somewhat. It’s always been about winning, of course, but sometimes things cloud that.
“We’ve been able to sit down (and re-think), certainly myself, it’s a big learning process for myself.”
Seven points from nine has matched Telford’s best league run of the season from the end of August and start of September.
But Cowan’s men had registered just four clean sheets in 22 games in all competitions this season before three shutouts in their last three fixtures against Chester, Alfreton and Gloucester.
Captain Shane Sutton and former players’ player of the year Ross White returned to Cowan’s defence for the three clean sheets and have settled in seamlessly, helping the side to a perfect away performance, so Cowan agreed, at Gloucester’s temporary Evesham home.
The Bucks hope to have Sutton, who had a tight hamstring at Gloucester, available for selection. Attacker Barnett returns after serving his one-game ban.
After their New Bucks Head reverse made it five defeats on the spin for Billy Heath’s men, Alfreton – who dropped to 16th, three points behind Telford – found a much-needed response last weekend.
They pushed leaders King’s Lynn all the way and led twice, eventually drawing 2-2 at their Impact Arena home.
One Amari Morgan-Smith put the demons of his miserable Telford return, where he blazed a late penalty over the bar, behind him with a stunning volley that arrowed into the top corner against the Linnets.
The leaders equalised almost immediately but Alfreton defender Ryan Qualter handed his side the lead against just eight minutes in.
Heath’s men were unfortunate not to hold out for all three points against the Norfolk side, who had wily old forward Michael Gash to thank for a leveller 13 minutes from time to keep them four points clear of York at the summit.
Bucks chief Cowan will be well aware the 3-0 Boxing Day success means precious little going into this rematch, although his side did manage home and away success against struggling Nuneaton Borough in last season’s doubler-header.
Heath clearly got the response he wanted at home two days after the limp defeat in Shropshire and Telford should be braced for a demanding test to build on what has been a fine few days.
“The players are enjoying themselves and working hard while putting in a shift for the club and the badge,” Cowan added. “It’s all I’ve asked of them really.
“We’ve been here before with three good performances but my challenge is to the players to do a fourth. We can’t get complacent, it’d be a crime.
“We need to carry this run on. But I can’t be more proud.
“With seven points out of nine, three clean sheets and brilliant performances let’s not get too exited and remember who we are and what we’re about.
“Barney has to recreate the performance he did against them and I’m sure they’ll be ready for him should he be selected. The thing for him is consistency. It’s a different game on a different day, we don’t have any God-given right.”