STEPHEN McDONNELL: ‘We asked the players to go away and reflect’

Warrenpoint Town boss Stephen McDonnell. Pic by Pacemaker.
Warrenpoint Town boss Stephen McDonnell. Pic by Pacemaker.

Stephen McDonnell is fine-tuning his full faith in time on the training ground in a bid to arrest the early-season slump which has seen his Warrenpoint Town squad suffer five successive league defeats.

The Danske Bank Premiership’s basement side tonight play host to Linfield with Town boss McDonnell calling on his players to use this week’s preparation time to focus on the field and reflect off it in the aftermath of a 6-1 loss to Ballymena United.

Linfield boss David Healy. Pic by Pacemaker.

Linfield boss David Healy. Pic by Pacemaker.

“Look, we still believe in what we are doing, it’s over to the players now and we build everything up during the week for them and it is over to them,” said McDonnell. “I can’t go out there and play football and neither can the coaching staff.

“We can make it as real for them as we can and give them all the ideas and the scenarios.

“We will just have to dust ourselves down and we asked the players to go away and reflect on that performance and come back to us in training during the week with something.

“Instead of us taking the lead we have asked them to go away and think about the Ballymena game and come back to us with something.

“For me, the thing against Ballymena was the most simple thing - work-rate.

“And we do have quality - we have seen that - but against Ballymena it was scary, it was scary how we could just go to that level of a performance.

“But we didn’t work hard and I don’t think we put in one tackle against Ballymena United.

“We now have a nice easy one against Linfield!

“All you can ask any player is to work hard for 90 minutes and, if you are empty after 70 minutes, we take you off.”

“We look forward to Linfield coming and we expect a tough game but we have to pull together and try and cause an upset.

“We have to stun someone shortly, we will just have to pull together and go out there and give it everything we have.

“But against Ballymena we had nine or 10 players having an off day and we can’t afford for that to happen again against Linfield, or anyone else.”

In the aftermath of centre-back Maxim Kouogun’s recent arrival, McDonnell has moved to further bolster his backline by bringing goalkeeper Aaron McCarey to the Town.

The former Ross County shot-stopper can count hometown club Monaghan United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Walsall, York City, Portsmouth and Bury on his track record.

McCarey and McDonnell share a strong history as former team-mates along the Republic of Ireland international set-up, plus Dundalk Schoolboys’ League.

“Personally, myself and Aaron go back to our underage playing days together, so it’s great to be back working together again,” said McDonnell on the club’s official website. “He will certainly add huge experience to our panel.”

Linfield boss David Healy closed out August as the ‘Manager of the Month’ award-winner but kicked off September with a scoreless draw home to Ards on Saturday.

“We couldn’t find that pass or finish for the goal,” said Healy on the club’s official website. “It’s a blip and we are still unbeaten so it’s not about ranting as we kept going and on another day could have had three points.

“If we are serious, serious challengers for trophies then those are games we need to win but it is about staying positive.

“We now have a big game off the back of a disappointing result but we want to work as hard as we can to rebuild confidence after that dent.”