DAVE Langston has hit out at the Rocester detractors voicing their disapproval from the terraces.
The Romans are currently 14 points behind table-toppers Stratford Town who they face in tomorrow's crunch Midland Alliance clash. But Langston insists that the title race is far from over and called for critical fans to gain some perspective.
"Expectations at the start of the season were high and some people thought Rocester were going to run away with the league," said the Romans boss. "Saturday (against Tipton Town) was a disappointing result and there were a few people with their heads down in the stands.
"Because expectation are people are saying 'you're not going to win the league now'. You always get those who knock you. Those doubters need to gain some perspective. We are ahead of where we were last year. I think people sometimes forgot that.
"We have played 18 games this season this season and lost four. It's not like we've played 18 and lost 18. We are sixth in the league and still in the League Cup. Last season we only just managed to scrape sixth.
"Last season we were out in the first round of the FA Vase. We are in the second round proper of the FA Vase - the furthest we've been in something like 20-odd years. I think the lads are doing a very good job and they are playing well."
The manager does admit that last weekend's 2-0 defeat against bogey outfit Tipton Town was a poor result. He said: "We played some decent football without really penetrating. Tipton said it was the best they've played all season - and they weren't that good. It was disappointing."
The 2-0 reverse means the Hillsfield outfit have suffered defeat in three of their last four games. Rocester face a tough task reversing that trend at Stratford Town tomorrow against a side who remain unbeaten in the league. The division's leading scorers are also more than three goals a game.
The Romans will also face the league leaders without a trio of players. Unavailable duo Craig Holland and Darren Bullock both miss out and Rocester have also lost Ryan Pirrie to injury. The absence of all three, plus Town's fire-power threat, means Rocester will switch to a 4-5-1 formation to combat the free-scoring league leaders.
Langston added: "That's three big players out for Saturday. It's going to be difficult. They have had a very good start. You could not ask for a better start to the season. Stratford are chucking a fair bit of money at the team and have assembled a good team. I have assembled a good team without any money.
"We will be setting ourselves out defensively. With the personnel we have out we'll be changing to 4-5-1. But we did that at Westfields last season and came away with a 4-1 win."