09:25AM, Monday 21 October 2019
Rebels’ joint manager Jon Underwood admitted he was ‘pinching himself’ after the side moved up to third off the back of their 3-1 win over Billericay Town last week.
Underwood and Neil Baker couldn’t have dreamed of such a position when they lost their first three league games of the season.
But a run of 10 matches unbeaten in National League South – punctured by their surprise exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Chippenham Town last week – has rocketed them up the table.
They’re now within sniffing distance of second-placed Hemel Hempstead Town, but will have to go some way to catch leaders Wealdstone who currently have a nine-point head start on them.
The ambition this season is simply to improve on last year, when the side finished three points outside of the play-offs and, on current form, they’re very much on track to do that.
“Last season was a good effort in our first season back,” said Underwood. “Improvement would be getting into the play-offs because we know that, when you do that, anything can happen. There are a lot of teams trying to do it and it’s a long grind, but we’ve got it in us to compete all season.
“It would be a hell of an achievement in our second season but teams have done it before so why not?”
A hard-working ethos has laid the foundations for their recovery and Underwood admitted that a player wouldn’t survive at Arbour Park if they didn’t put in a shift.
“Even when we don’t play well we work hard. I don’t think a player could survive in this team if they didn’t. They’d lose their place.
“That rubs off on the players because they don’t allow their teammates not to work hard and we certainly don’t as managers. And then, when we do play well, we’re a match for most teams.
“We’ve got to pinch our-selves really, from where we were after three games to where we are now. It’s been a fantastic run and we’ve got to keep it going.”
Underwood admitted all eyes were on the Rebels to see how they’d react to their shock cup upset, but the response from the players – in front of a crowd of 1,115 on Non League Day – couldn’t have been more emphatic.
Sam Togwell’s thumping header and Matty Lench’s finish following a fine team move put them 2-0 to the good before half-time, while Dan Roberts’ close range volley put the seal on a 3-1 win early in the second half.
They’re next in action a week on Saturday at third- from-bottom Oxford City and, although Underwood is concerned they may lose some momentum, he said the time on the training ground will give the players time to reset.
“I’m sure we’ll have spells where it doesn’t go for us but, at the minute, you feel as though you’ll win every time you go onto the pitch, and it’s a great feeling,” he added.
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