Graham Coughlan | "We need to be right at it..."

Manager Graham Coughlan insists his side must be at it from the start and wants them to deliver an improved performance when they face Tranmere Rovers at Rodney Parade tomorrow afternoon (3pm).

The Exiles host Nigel Adkins' men on the back of a run of five straight defeats and will be looking to make amends in their penultimate home fixture of the League Two season.

The County boss has admitted his side have dipped below their standards in recent weeks but wants his side to deliver a positive response in the three games that remain this season. 

“It’s been a tough, tough period and as the manager I have to shoulder the blame,” began Coughlan.

“I have to take the criticism and that’s quite right. I will always shallow and protect the players by all means, but I will address them what’s needed from them in private.  

“There’s no way the lads have become bad players, bad people or bad characters overnight. That just doesn’t happen. Yes, there are mitigating circumstances, but we need to keep going as a squad and a group of players.

“We’ve asked an awful lot of the group but all I ask is for a strong finish. All I ask is to get beyond that 57 point mark and to finish above 15th place which was last seasons’ total. 

“I think that over the whole of the season that would be a successful outcome, but I will take anything the lap of gods can give me over the next few weeks. Whether that’s a performance, a clean sheet or a win. I will take anything in this moment as it’s not been easy. 

“We have to stick with each other. The players have to remain upbeat, positive and they have nourish up some sort of energy to go and put a strong finish in. 

“The players are all playing for what they are playing for, whether that’s contacts, individual targets or something else. We’ve all got something to play for in life, and we will be looking to push on and be ready to progress next season.”

Saturday’s opponents make the trip to South Wales on a run of bad forms themselves, winning just two of their last six fixtures.

But depsite Rovers' recent form, Coughlan is still anticipating a tough test from Adkins' side.

“Tranmere have come on leaps and bounds onto a decent game, ” added Coughlan. 

“They’ve changed shape, mix things up and have some really top, top lads. They have a few lads that I’ve worked with previously and have a manager who has done really well. 

“Nigel [Adkins] has steered them away from the troubles that they’ve had so it will be tough tomorrow. They will want to finish the season stronger than they started it, so It will be a tough, tough game as is every game in League Two. 

“They’ll try and service the box, move the ball wide and feed the ball to the front two strikers who are a handful. We need to handle them and we need to be right at it from the start. 

“At the end of the day, we have an opportunity to park the last few games and the bad run that we’ve been on. 

“Tomorrow is a perfect opportunity to react and prove the doubters wrong.”

You can watch Graham Coughlan's full pre-match press conference HERE.