Eight games into their new venture, Kelty Hearts find themselves top of the East of Scotland League after a storming start to the new campaign. After scoring 61 goals in that time, and only conceding 5, you would be wrong to think that manager Thomas Courts is hedging his bets ahead of this afternoon’s match against bottom of the league Tweedmouth.
Talking on Wednesday ahead of this afternoon’s match, Courts said:
“One of the things I think we fell foul of, early doors, was the expectation on us to be scoring copious amounts of goals. I think it was in the Stirling University match where I felt there was almost an apprehension starting to come into our play; those types of results and performances can happen – freak results happen every single season so we got a wake-up call very early on in the season that we don’t have a divine right to win and score enormous amounts of goals. We will give Tweedmouth all the respect they deserve: we will do our due diligence on them and then we will go there and apply the game-plan as we do against every other opponent.”
Does Courts have to adjust the preparation of his players because he is playing the side bottom of the league?
“I think that comes under the bracket of our game-plan and our identity. It doesn’t matter who we are playing, the first thing we are trying to do is earn the right to get a foothold in the game. Once you get that, it is about not relenting and turning that dominance into chances and goals. Beyond that, if you are fortunate enough to take the match to a point where you are in control, then it really comes down to your identity and your ruthlessness. Thankfully, for me, we don’t actually look at opponents in that manner and it is more about the game, the game-plan; how it is linked to our identity and usually, that helps us play the game the way we want it to.
One of the things I do is make sure the players are well prepared,” continues the former East Fife defender. “I think you have to do that for any opponent. You have to respect them and do your due diligence or they can hurt you. Whether I have been in the job one week or four years, I make sure the players know exactly what I am looking for from them, as well as what they are about to encounter. 95% of what I do is about how we deploy ourselves and that will be the same for Tweedmouth on Saturday as it will be next Tuesday when we play Brechin City’s first-team in a friendly. For me, football players like to know that their manager has belief in his own system and the players in it which will allow them to deploy a game-plan to keep them competitive, so, for me, it is explicitly about how we perform on a Saturday and not necessarily on the opponents.”
The Kelty manager is hoping for another big crowd to travel ahead of the Fife club’s ninth match in the East of Scotland League.
“I think it’d be phenomenal. I think everyone at the club is really enjoying the journey; there is a freshness for us when we visit new venues and meet new people. I have started to see some new regular faces, alongside a lot of familiar faces too and that has helped us swell the numbers we have taken to away matches. I am pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest surrounding our journey and the way we are catching people’s attention with it.”