03:22PM, Thursday 07 November 2019
Neil Baker has said he won’t think about winning the league, even if they beat Havant & Waterlooville tomorrow (Saturday) in his and Jon Underwood’s 500th competitive match as managers.
The Rebels moved up to second after Saturday’s hard-fought 2-1 win over Chelmsford, but Baker confirmed the big target for the team this season is to finish in the play-offs. After picking up an average of nearly two points per game this season, they’re well on course to do that.
Should they manage to maintain that form Baker believes they’ll definitely finish in the top seven and he even admits it might even be good enough to lift the title.
“I don’t think that we’d get carried away even if we win on Saturday,” said Baker.
“Wealdstone have a seven point lead and even though we’re yet to play them it’s a pretty commanding advantage at this stage.
“The focus is on getting into the play-offs and if we can do that it will be a massive thing for the club and us as a management team.
“It would put us two or three games away from being in the National League which is what we’re all striving for.
“We wouldn’t think about winning the league until it’s mathematically impossible for anyone to catch us.
“Over the past 26 games we’ve picked up on average two points a game. If we can do that to the end of the season it will definitely put us in the play-offs and might be good enough to win the title.”
On Saturday, missing several first team players, they weren’t quite at their best against Chelmsford City.
But they managed to keep their impressive home run going thanks to a 2-1 win, with both of the goals scored by Ben Harris before half-time.
The Clarets dented that advantage with a goal just after the break but, in a backs-to-the-wall second half display they managed to hold on for all three points.
It means they’ve won nine and drawn one of their last 11 games, the only blot on that copybook coming in the recent 2-1 away defeat to Oxford City.
The game at third-placed Havant will be Baker and Jon Underwood’s 500th competitive game together as joint managers, and they’ve got a mouth-watering match to mark the occasion.
“Missing out on the FA Cup you want a big game instead and we’ve got that,” added Baker.
“Our away form has been pretty stable and we’ve shown we’re capable of picking up results away from home.
“But to do that we’ll have to play well. We’re under no illusions as to how tough it will be. They’re a full-time side who’ve been heavily financed.
“They’ve got top players and are managed by Paul Doswell.
“On paper it should be a home win but we’ll be going there full of confidence and looking to get a result.
“Guy Hollis will be available again and Mark Nisbet has had his heart problem rectified again so he’ll be available too. Matt Lench is fine but Lee Togwell is unlikely to make it after damaging ankle ligaments. But we’re in better shape than last weekend.”
Reflecting on the character shown by the players in last weekend’s win over the Clarets, Baker added: “With the players we had missing going into the game we’d have probably taken a draw so to win it was great.
“To come off leading 2-0 was great but we conceded just after half-time and then we had to hang on.
“We defended very well, on another day we might have drawn the game or even lost it.
“That’s nine wins, a draw and a defeat from our last 11 games which is fantastic.”
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