Bradford City players urged to force mistakes in search for home comfort (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Jon McLaughlin thinks team-mates can win pitch battle with course knowledge
The heavy surface came in for flak after the draw with Port Vale last time out and Phil Parkinson warned that home games could get ugly.
Goalkeeper McLaughlin admits that it is a problem for the players – but one they should look to heap on visiting teams.
With a bumper crowd enticed by the £1 offer, City will want to deliver three points against Hereford tomorrow and McLaughlin feels local knowledge of the unpredictable turf can prove a key factor.
“It does make it difficult but you’ve got to get on with it,” he said.
“If you’ve got a team of good footballers who want to pass the ball, there’s not a massive amount of grass on there so it cuts up and the solid bounce is hard for your touch.
As long as you know in your mind that there are going to be unexpected bounces, you can prepare for itJon McLaughlin
“But you should try not to use it as an excuse. Both teams have to play on it and it’s not the first year we’ve seen this.
“We’ve got to use it to our advantage really. We’re going to see it far more than the teams coming here.
“The gaffer has been good. He knows what the pitch is like and tells us to take care and press the opposition. Do that and they are going to make more mistakes, so we can use it in our favour.”
As City’s last line of defence, McLaughlin has to be more watchful than most for any unpredictable bounce. One blunder dealing with a bobbly backpass can be fatal.
“As long as you know in your mind that there are going to be unexpected bounces, you can prepare for it,” said the keeper.
“The pitch was in better condition in the first half against Port Vale so I was more tempted to commit to hitting the ball from back passes and being brave.
“Then I kicked one in the second straight out of play – but sometimes you have to do that. It’s better to play safe rather than risk the ball bouncing over your foot.
“Unfortunately sometimes it doesn’t make for the best football. But it’s the safer option to hit the ball behind (the defence) and chase it, rather than try and be clever with the chance of losing possession.
“Fans will accept that more than running the risk of a mistake by trying to play too much football.”
Hereford’s visit kicks off a whirlwind run of 11 games in the next five weeks. Another win to follow their Torquay triumph would stretch the gap from the bottom two – and set City up for the mad month to come.
McLauglin said: “You’ve got to start this period very positively. You get that momentum building and the next game can’t come quickly enough.
“That’s what we did in December. We took the good form we had from one game to the next and you could see the energy and enthusiasm we had.
“If you’re not playing well and there aren’t a lot of positives, then it just feels that games are piling on.
“So it’s massively important you get that good start in terms of results and performances and take it on from there.”