Let's do ourselves justice, says coach ahead of daunting test
DERBY head coach Roxy Fearon knows his side face a "tall order" to avoid another defeat when they take on National League Three Midlands leaders Ampthill tomorrow.
Ampthill travel to Haslams Lane two points clear at the top, having won 14 of their 16 league fixtures so far and losing only once.
The Bedfordshire side thumped Bournville 75-19 last weekend and are responsible for Derby's heaviest loss of the campaign to date – 80-5 when the sides met in September.
Ampthill have scored 710 points in their 16 league outings – an average of 44 per game.
Rock bottom Derby – still without a win this term – are conceding an average of 41 points a game, having leaked 626 points in their 15 matches.
Fearon's first match in charge last Saturday ended in a 40-12 reverse at Syston – leaving them 28 points adrift of safety.
And the new man at the helm does not expect things to get any easier this weekend.
"We lost 80-5 to Ampthill earlier in the season, so our first aim is to improve on that scoreline," said Fearon.
"I'm looking for us to be competitive in the first half and then continue that in the second half.
"If we can do that, the score will look after itself.
"We're under no illusions. They have got a playing budget of something like £80,000, while we have got nothing like that.
"That's what we're up against, so we know it is going to be a tall order.
"It's very much a case of the haves against the have-nots.
"I just want us to give a good account of ourselves and if we can do that, I will be happy.
"I don't have a problem with losing – but it's about how you lose."
Fearon was left to bemoan his side's indiscipline against Syston – three players were sin-binned during the course of the match, allowing the hosts to take full advantage.
"It was interesting for me – very much a learning experience, looking at players and how they deal with certain situations," he added.
"At the moment, we're looking for people who will stand up in the face of adversity and not lose their heads."
Fearon intends to give the players involved at Syston another chance, though Luke Frixou and Charlie Esberger are both unavailable.
"We want to give people a couple of games under the new regime to see what they have to offer before making too many changes," said the coach.
"So where possible, we will look for a bit of continuity this weekend.
"Having said that, there are 15 places up for grabs."
Adam Lambert and Eldon Atherton could return to the fold, while centre Nathan Burton is back at the club on loan from Leicester Lions and is pushing for a first-team spot.