01:15PM, Monday 04 April 2022
Mathematically, Marlow aren't quite out of the play-off picture just yet, with the Blues just four points off the top five with four matches left to play.
But realistically, Saturday's goalless draw at home to Basingstoke Town has left them with too much to do in too little time, with manager Mark Bartley admitting afterwards they now needed 'snookers' to get back in the mix.
Looking slightly resigned to his side's fate after a frustrating afternoon at Oak Tree Road, Bartley admitted those favours from other sides might not happen, however, he'll be doing all he can to get his players 'mentally right' for the run in just in case they do.
Their hopes might have been all but ended by Saturday's stalemate, but their faltering form set in some time ago with the Blues having won just four of their last 15 league matches dating back to the middle of January.
In that time, they've dropped from the relative security of third place to seventh, having struggled for form and consistency during a spell that's been afflicted by injuries, illness and a loss of confidence.
Saturday's display wasn't one of their worst of late. The hosts once again looked organised and compact in defence and managed to keep a third clean sheet in four matches. However, there was little composure on the ball in an attacking sense, while the hard, dry surface was hardly conducive to free-flowing football.
Despite this they created the game's best chance, when Kameron English hammered the underside of the crossbar shortly after the half-time interval, but the ball bounced away to safety.
Adam Richards and Louis Rogers also had good headed chances from close range but neither found the back of the net, while at the other end Basingstoke also carved out a few opportunities only to be thwarted by Simon Grant or their own wasteful finishing.
Speaking afterwards, Bartley said: “Recent results had turned this into a must win game for us today and we haven't won it.
“We knew we needed to win because it would have pulled us closer to them (Basingstoke) and made it a little more achievable.
“We knew it was a must win game and we didn’t win it and that's left us needing snookers now. That's the reality of it.
“It was a tricky surface to play on and it wasn't conducive to good football. It meant that we could only play in one way out there and could change things too much.
“Both sides are in and around it (the play-offs) so you'd expect there wouldn't be much between them, but again we've come away having not won one of these games.
“Simon’s (Grant) made a good save in the first half maybe, but other than that he hasn’t really been stretched.
“We had the chance for Kameron and a couple of headers from set pieces. Ads (Adam Richards) had one that went just over the bar, and we've had another when Ads has headed it back across goal and Louis (Rogers) has headed it straight into the keeper.
“We needed one of those to go in, but it just didn't happen for us today.”
Bartley will try and lift his players in the coming days for Saturday's home game against Sutton Common Rovers, but he must now know his side's chances have all but slipped away.
Those hopes weren't ended by Saturday's result in isolation. They've also lost crucial six-pointers against Uxbridge and Bedfont Sports in recent weeks and been unexpectedly beaten by the likes of Chertsey Town, South Park, and Guernsey.
“We have to approach the games in the right manner to win football matches,” he said. “It's difficult for us now because we need people do us favours and that might not happen.
“The most important thing is that mentally you get yourself in the right place, you try and win the games and then you just see where that takes us.
“This was a third clean sheet in four matches so from that side of things, we were relatively solid. We didn't give too much away but we didn’t get it going the other way.”
Paramedics were called to the scene of a medical emergency in Maidenhead on Monday morning (June 27).