Deacon's men still on right road, despite a gloomy run
RAISED expectations can eat away at you and do more harm than good.
Cinderford's best start to the National One season for four years has elevated standards at Dockham Road.
The problem with that is anything which does not match up to those new high levels is instantly deemed a failure.
The Foresters' third straight defeat three days before Christmas against an under-fire Coventry meant Andy Deacon's men dropped to ninth in the third tier of English rugby.
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For the last three seasons at this stage the Mary Beavis Memorial Ground outfit have found themselves planted in or around the relegation zone.
Targets and aims are healthy and constructive in terms of providing something to work towards, but they must come with a sense of perspective.
This is the Forest of Dean outfit's fifth season in National One and they have accumulated their highest mid-season points total since they stormed to their best finish in the division.
Off the back of a successful promotion campaign, an experienced team including the likes of former Gloucester stars Rob Fidler, Mark Cornwell and Deacon steered the side to fifth.
At this point then eight wins had been achieved – just two more than the six victories and two draws that this season's class have notched up.
Last Christmas four successes, four try-scoring bonus points and five losing bonuses yielded a 29-point tally which is 12 down on this year's sum.
With the season resuming again on Saturday at home to Rosslyn Park, Cinderford have eight out of 14 matches at home now and Deacon is confident of a better second half.
"Our aim is to get 90 points at the end of the season and we've now passed the halfway stage and we're on 41, so we are only a little behind target," said Deacon.
"If we had got a win at Coventry then we would have been bang on target with 45 points and right on track to get to where we want to be.
"Ninety points in total would mean you will be well up the league, and we are not far away from that."
The current three-game losing run needs to be examined further, with their only home fixture in that spell coming against leaders Ealing followed by trips to in-form Loughborough and grizzly Coventry.
Unfortunately for Cinderford the fixture list does not get any kinder, as third-placed Rosslyn Park visit Dockham Road in the first match after the Christmas.
After being one of only two teams to take points off Park at their ground following a September draw, a home win would represent a good overall record for Deacon's side.
Deacon continued: "I can't wait to get back to Dockham Road.
"We've had a very tough run of games that we are going through at the moment, where we are playing away a lot and played the leaders at home.
"We played Ealing at home and lost, then we had two away games on the bounce and then we will come back home and have third-placed Rosslyn Park at the beginning of January.
"We just have to keep our nerve and keep training hard and keep enthusiasm and keep the spirit going.
"We have had three defeats on the bounce before and we will have them again.
"It is just a case of keep training hard and keep dedicated and enjoy the Christmas break after the Coventry game and then get back to work."