MICHAEL COLLINS aims to help Town take the next step under caretaker manager Gerry Murphy when they visit Port Vale tomorrow.
The midfielder believes there were a host of positives when Murphy began his second spell as caretaker manager with last Saturday’s 2-2 home draw against Doncaster.
But he was disappointed not to pick up all three points – a situation he and his teammates intend to rectify down in the Potteries.
“It was a much better performance against Donny,” said the 21-year-old, whose last-gasp goal earned Town their last win, 3-2 at Bristol Rovers three games ago, and who put away a wonder strike to seal last season’s 2-1 victory at Vale Park.
“Gerry told us to go out and play with passion, try to play some football, and to match them stride for stride, and I think we achieved all those things.
“We were the better side for long spells, and to be disappointed only to get a point against one of the top sides in League I shows how better we were.”
It’s been another busy week on the training ground under Murphy and his coaching team of Graham Mitchell, Martyn Booty and John Vaughan, who will be in day 12 of their temporary reign tomorrow.
But Collins says the players are enjoying the routine of double sessions most days.
“Gerry has put a few smiles back on faces, and that’s no disrespect to (former manager) Andy Ritchie, because we all enjoyed training when he was in charge,” he added.
“But with the way our season has been so up and down, there’s no denying that confidence has dipped.
“A number of the lads have suffered, but Gerry has picked everybody up, and given everyone clear instructions as to what’s expected of them.
“I think we carried them out against Donny and did Gerry proud. Now the aim is to do the same at Port Vale, and this time get the points.
“We were all over Donny in the first half, and the only thing we did wrong was not take our chances, because we could have been three up at half-time.
“We have to hit the ground running again tomorrow, and make sure we put away any chances we create.”
The signs are that Murphy will stick with the same XI and 3-5-2 system against second-bottom Vale, who will be all but relegated if they are beaten by a 14th-placed Town team chasing an eighth away win and fifth double of the season (after Yeovil, AFC Bournemouth, Millwall and Bristol Rovers).
That means another advanced midfield role for Collins, who against Doncaster, took one of two central slots alongside Jon Worthington, with teenager James Berrett taking the holding role.
“I enjoy playing full stop, but last week’s role suited me especially well,” said Collins.
“My job was to try to take care of Paul Green, who is a handful, and try to spark some attacks.
“James was marking James Coppinger and Worthy was the man to play the box-to-box role, which I thought he did really well.
“He made some great runs and got into some really good forward positions, and was really unlucky not to score, especially with the effort that hit a post.
“I saw that Gerry Murphy compared him to Paul Scholes in yesterday’s Examiner.
“For me, he’s a Bryan Robson type, and to be a mixture of those two isn’t bad going!
“Worthy had a really good game, and hopefully he’ll carry that on tomorrow.”