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Howarth: Stamp Your Authority

5 September 2013

Neil Howarth wants players to start stamping their authority on the pitch.

Assistant manager Neil Howarth speaking to the media ahead of the first ever competitive meeting between Cheltenham and Portsmouth:

"I thought we played some really good stuff in the second half on Tuesday and I actually felt we played well in the first too apart from conceding the goals. They certainly bounced back and, from a place they couldn't hide, they stood up to be counted and they played really well.

"You are always working on things whether it's attacking or defending or both at the same time. We aren't sticking our heads in the sand. We are conceding too many goals and it has to stop. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating because we haven't changed too much from last season when we had the most clean sheets. It's something that we won't overreact too but it's time to be up and running and we need to tighten up.

"Hopefully Steve Elliott will be fit for this weekend. He took a bad hit last weekend and he was still groggy for a few days and whether he will be available for Saturday or not I'm not too sure. Hopefully he will be okay. Matt Richards is another player who can slip into the back four so we do have options. We perhaps don't have as many bodies as we would like back there but we are still comfortable with the options we do have.

"Matt (Richards) was sore during the Bury game and ideally we would have taken him off but circumstances going against us we weren't able too. Matt is one we will have to assess and see nearer the time whether he is available or not.

"Jamie (Cureton) has played 18 minutes this season and has got one goal. He's a great lad and he has unbelievable movement especially for this level. Ideally he wouldn't have been involved at all on Tuesday but we had too with the numbers. We managed to score a few goals on Tuesday without needing him but whether he is involved this weekend is something we are assessing right now. I think it's natural to go into a season wondering where goals might come from and we are scoring enough but it's the other end we need to tighten up.

"We keep saying to the lads that we aren't bothered who plays because we want players to earn the right to play and then work hard to keep their place. If they're not in the team then they must keep doing the right things and when the opportunity does come they have to take it. We're still waiting for a lot of players to put their foot down and stamp their authority.

"Portsmouth have had a horrendous couple of years but they're back on the up and they will be marching up the leagues. They are a big club and a well supported one so teams will raise their game against them. It will certainly be a good atmosphere on Saturday but we must stand up to them and try to get the three points. I've said a few times that when we play a so called bigger club with a big following, that's when our fans are at their best. Hopefully our fans can sing the loudest."

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