Worksop Town’s stellar form since manager Simon Clark (pictured) took over in October has kept them in with a shout of extending their season.
But it’s still only a faint shout, and defeat at Sandy Lane on Saturday would be disastrous, according to Clark.
He spoke to the Guardian this week about his hopes for this season, and the longer term consequences of a decent run in.
“It’s an absolute must win game to keep us in the hunt,” he said.
“From the games against Frickley (2-1 Tigers win), North Ferriby (0-0 draw) and Kendal I said nine points would be brilliant but I’d accept seven, because we’re still in it then.”
“The Bradford Park Avenue game at the end of the month is huge for us, but only if we get three points on Saturday.”
At Sandy Lane, Worksop have only been beaten once since Clark and assistant manager Dave Frecklington came in, and he believes the surface can play in their favour this weekend.
“We’ll set up a certain way because our pitch suits us, it’s flat and we can pass it crisp and sharp.”
“But we just need to make sure that our workrate is good.”
“I will do some specific work with my full-backs because I thought they were poor in possession, and I’ll work with the front six on what we need to do to unlock sides.”
“Before Christmas I said teams would come and sit in and hit us on the counter because we’ve won all but one game at home in the last three months.”
Clark, sitting in the stand for the second game of his two-match suspension, was disappointed with Monday’s goalless stalemate at Ferriby, but stressed that his side are not yet the finished article.
“We were poor, all our good work is underpinned by certain things we do, our core beliefs, taking two or three touches, shifting the ball through the units – when we don’t do that we allow teams to turn it into a physical battle.”
“Ferriby had won seven of nine games, but we’re in a position when we go to teams like that to turn them over.”
“When we did break out we didn’t play with any tempo, we weren’t penetrative and didn’t hurt them enough up top.”
“But we’re a progression, a football team that is evolving and we will continue to evolve.”
“We expect more and more of the players and if they work hard and give us their all we’ll be fine.”
Play-offs aside, Clark believes a strong second half of the season will stand Tigers in good stead for the next campaign.
The gaffer is hoping to sign future Worksop Town stars on the back of this season’s form, and increase the gates at Sandy Lane.
“We want to do as well as possible this season to make us attractive to prospects.”
“And we want to play in front of 600s and 700s every week and give fans something to cling on to.”
We’re backed by a fantastic chairman, we get on well with the press and the fans but there is no resting on our laurels this season.”
l TIGERS are still on the trail of a young left-sided midfielder, and a new striker was expected to train with the first team on Thursday night.