Kevin Wilkin is convinced Brackley Town have the resilience required for the National League North promotion run-in.
The Saints, who lost last season’s play-off final to Harrogate Town, have hit form since the turn of the year with last Tuesday’s win at Hereford – their 11th win in 13 league games.
Wilkin’s men also reached the FA Trophy quarter-finals in an admirable defence of the competition they won at Wembley last May.
Promotion has always been the ultimate aim and although the title looks a long shot, they will be seen as one of the fancied outfits for the play-offs.
Wilkin, who has won promotion from this division with Nuneaton, wants to make sure a berth is secured first but believes the squad attitude is first class.
“The application they’ve shown to training, discipline and that bit of responsibility will be key moving into this crucial period,” Wilkin told The NLP.
“It was a long journey for most to Hereford and the lads are having a bit of banter after of, ‘See you Saturday!’ But we got them in on Thursday night to have a recovery session and do some conditioning work with someone. They have a joke about not coming in after winning but they know we’re going to get together and prepare properly.
“We’ve been consistent through the season. There’s a time for a rest and times when you can nick a break from it, but the lads understand.
“Lots of them have been in these situations before and they understand. It’s a good thing when they take that responsibility on board.
“We’ve had players come to the club who have found, for whatever reason, it’s not something they’re able to do. If it’s not for them, generally they don’t stay long with us. It’s an intense competition. The level of the clubs you’ve got in there, good players, good teams, good managers – it doesn’t relent.
“The players have shown they have that resilience and hopefully they continue to show it. You get the lottery of the play-offs – it would be nice to secure a place – and it’s exciting but, as we found out last year, it’s fine margins. We’d love to be a part of it.”
After last season’s success, Wilkin saw 33-goal striker Aaron Williams move to Harrogate and key defender Alex Gudger join National League Solihull Moors.
Lee Ndlovu has hit over 20 goals while Connor Hall, a summer signing from Biggleswade Town, has also impressed. Wilkin feels the squad have progressed after losing three of their opening four fixtures.
“To end Stockport County’s unbeaten run recently was great credit to the lads,” Wilkin said. “Then beating Kidderminster the other week – these are massive clubs we’re competing against. To go toe-to-toe and play the way we do is enjoyable. We’re not taking anything for granted, we know you can come unstuck.
“It’s the old cliché, a game at a time and hopefully that leads to us finishing in a similar position to last year.”