Published: 08:05, 03 January 2022
| Updated: 16:25, 03 January 2022
Tonbridge manager Steve McKimm has dismissed suggestions his side are too good to go down.
Angels’ winless run in National South reached double figures with yesterday’s 2-0 defeat at new leaders Maidstone.
There’s only one relegation place to worry about this season, rather than the usual three, but Tonbridge are only four points clear of bottom club Billericay.
McKimm feels his side have been in a relegation battle for “two or three games” and they have to start winning.
“We haven’t won in 10 games, so we can’t be too good to go down and we can’t be too good just to go out there and turn teams over,” said McKimm.
“We’ve got to earn the right and we’ve got to work even harder to turn teams over because, if not, what we’ll do is we’ll lose again and again and again.
“What we’ve got to do, or what I’ve got to do, is find a resolution to get us out of this mess we’re in.”
Hard work will be crucial, just as it has been for Maidstone manager Hakan Hayrettin in his side’s climb to the summit.
“Everyone dismisses that side of the game,” said McKimm.
“You can have technically great players but if they don’t work, you’re missing a cog in your team.
“And football has changed and evolved now, in terms of you need to absolutely work your nuts off and use your quality to get something out of a game.
“You can’t just rely on how good you are with the ball at your feet because then you’re playing with 10 men or nine men.
“Maidstone have got plenty of stars in their side but do they work hard?
“Yes, they do, and that’s probably because they were on a bad run and Hakan’s kicked them up the backside, saying come on, get your act together, and they’ve done it, and that’s what we’ve got to do.
“There’s no special remedy to winning games of football.
“I haven’t thrown teacups in there, I just highlighted a lot of things they need to realise and where it could take them.”
There’s no lack of belief from McKimm, despite Tonbridge’s poor form, which continued against their local rivals following first-half goals from Dominic Odusanya and Joan Luque.
“We’ve got 20-odd games to go to get ourselves out of it,” said the manager.
“If I throw in the towel now in terms of I don’t believe we can get out of it then there’s a problem for the football club because the person running the ship doesn’t believe in the people out there.
"But I do believe in them, and if outsiders don’t, that’s their prerogative.
“I’ve been in this situation before and I’ll be in it again, whether it’s at Tonbridge Angels or somewhere else, and we will get out of it, simple as that.
“I will leave no stone unturned, we will work as hard as we can and the harder you work, the more luck you get, and it’s a fact.
“Hakan, he’s been in the game long enough, he was getting some pelters here a few weeks ago because they weren’t on a good run. Now they’ve won six on the spin.
“He’s dusted himself down, got them working harder and that’s what I’ve got to do.
“It’s all right the staff telling them, they’ve then got to stand up and say, ‘Do you know what, I’m going to take the game by the scruff of the neck, this is going to be a bit of me today’.”
Tonbridge rallied in the second half, following a change of shape, but couldn’t find a way past a solid Stones backline.
They also finished with 10 men after Doug Loft, who protested his innocence, was sent off for a challenge on Odusanya.
“Maidstone didn’t have to do anything other than be compact and that’s what they did,” said McKimm. “And they did it very well. It was our job to break them down and we didn’t.
“I’ll watch the video of the red card.
“Doug says to me he didn’t do it, five or six of their players surrounded the ref so they must have thought it was quite a nasty one.
“He tells me he didn’t go over the top. I’ll watch the video and decide whether we appeal.
“The ref’s there to make a decision and he’s made the decision to send him off, so I’m not going to stand here and say it’s right or wrong because I couldn't see the actual incident.”