FC CLACTON boss Tom Austin is looking forward to a pivotal first month of 2019.

By his own admission, the Seasiders have to dig themselves "out of a hole" after disappointing back-to-back defeats over Christmas.

They lost 4-2 at Brantham Athletic on Boxing Day before going down 3-1 at home to Wroxham on Saturday.

However, Austin is confident his players can turn things round and is relishing a "winnable" run of fixtures during January.

They host Ely City - one place and three points above them in the Thurlow Nunn League premier division table - on Saturday, followed by trip to the side directly below them, Long Melford, on January 12.

After that they finish the month with two more home games against Norwich United and Whitton United - both in the bottom half - on the 19th and 26th.

"The next month is very important and could define our whole season," Austin told the Gazette.

"If it goes well, there's a chance we could rocket up into the top half of the table.

"It'll put us where we want to be after this little blip.

"It's down to the players to dig us out of this hole and help the team push on in 2019.

"We're leaking too many goals at the moment, which has to change, but, looking at the bigger picture, we've still got games in hand on the sides above. Now we have to win them."

Karl Andrade slotted home from the penalty spot to put Clacton ahead against Wroxham - the Seasiders' last fixture of 2018.

However, the Norfolk side levelled soon after and then grabbed their second with just three minutes remaining.

Their third followed in stoppage time.

"Unfortunately, late goals have been a theme of our Christmas," added Austin, whose side are 15th in the Thurlow Nunn League table.

"We conceded twice at the end of the Brantham match and twice more on Saturday.

"It's a very frustrating period for us and we've got to work hard to get out of it as soon as possible, to get some positivity going again.

"The referee was very poor and inconsistent at the weekend and that kind of thing doesn't help, when you're out of luck.

"I wouldn't say we've played well in the two Christmas games but I felt we deserved something at Brantham."

Austin hopes to welcome back inspirational skipper Wayne Chapman for Saturday's match against Ely.

The defender has missed both festive fixtures because of illness.

Striker Max Booth was unavailable at the weekend for the same reason but should return against Ely.

"We've really missed Wayne," said Austin.

"He gives us some bite and spurs the boys on."

Clacton's reserves return to action when they visit Essex and Suffolk Border League division two leaders Stanway Pegasus.

The sides will meet in a 2pm kick-off on Saturday.

Pegasus have a 14-point lead at the top of the table and have won 15 matches out of 15.