Kevin Wilkin has backed his Brackley Town players to “adapt” their game when they make the short trip to take on Kettering Town on Boxing Day.
The Saint’s Vanarama National League North festive programme kicks off at Latimer Park on Saturday before they host current leaders Gloucester City on Monday (December 28).
They will then start the new year with the reverse fixture against Kettering at St James’ Park on Saturday, January 2.
Wilkin knows full well what will be coming at his team when they face Paul Cox’s Poppies in the Boxing Day derby, which will be played out on a challenging surface at Latimer Park.
But the Saints boss insists there will be “no excuses” for his in-form team, who have won their last three league matches.
“We are looking forward to it,” Wilkin said.
“Kettering have a style of play that suits them and the surface they play on and we have to respect that.
“To be successful in a league season you have to be able to adapt and deal with those situations so there will be no excuses.
“Is it generally the way people want to play the game? Probably not. But if it’s effective and gets you results then who can argue whether it’s right or wrong?
“We have to adapt and get on with it and we have proved many times in the past that we can do that and that’s the reason why we have been in and around the play-offs in previous seasons.
“It will be a tough game against them, as it always is.
“We have only had the two defeats and, in the draws we have had, you could argue that we could have taken maximum points in two or three of those and if we had done then we would be right there knocking on the door.
“I give credit to our players because they have steadied the ship.
“But we are mindful that the league is wide open and Christmas is always a tough period that throws up strange results. We have to be on our guard to make sure we come through those games.”
Wilkin, meanwhile, felt a tinge of disappointment after his team’s Buildbase FA Trophy hopes were ended in a 4-3 penalty shoot-out defeat after a 0-0 draw at National League outfit Chesterfield last weekend.
The Saints travelled with a depleted squad but turned in a battling display before, in the shoot-out, Danny Lewis saved two of the first three penalties.
Jimmy Armson put Brackley ahead after three spot-kicks before Chesterfield converted three successive penalties as Saints missed with two to send the Spireites through to the fourth round.
“We went there with a very depleted squad but we were able to field a strong side but, aside from a goalkeeper and my assistant-manager (Mark Noon) we only had two other substitutes so we were limited with what we could do,” Wilkin added.
“But we stuck to the task. Chesterfield are in a good place at the moment and we had one or two moments in the game where we could have easily pinched it.
“We didn’t lose the game but we lost the tie on penalties and even in shoot-out we had the opportunities but didn’t take them, which is a bit disappointing. But we have to move on.”