JOINT Slough Town boss Neil Baker says he doesn’t expect his side’s FA Cup exit to have anything but a positive impact on their promotion hopes.
The Rebels revelled in their place in the spotlight last Monday night when the BT Sport cameras beamed live coverage of their second round clash with League 1 Rochdale at their proud new Arbour Park stadium.
Ultimately, it proved to be a step too far for the Evo-Stik Southern Premier high-flyers as they slipped to a 4-0 defeat to a well-drilled Dale.
But the manner in which the Rebels captured the hearts of the nation with a spirited display, gave Baker and co-boss Jon Underwood plenty of positives to take into a now congested winter period.
The Rebels are faced with as many as SIX games in hand to close the gap on promotion rivals King’s Lynn Town, Weymouth and Kettering Town, but with cup commitments now over for another year, Baker is backing his men to kick on and turn their attentions back towards achieving their main aim – promotion!
“The FA Cup was great fun and a great experience, but now it’s all eyes on the league,” said Baker, the former Farnborough Town and Aldershot Town defender.
“There were lots of positives we can take from the performance, now it’s about using our experiences to push on in the league.
“We’ve got a group here and I’m very confident that the reaction from the cup will be positive. We are too ruthless here for it not to be.
“We’ve got six games in hand over some of our rivals and have 13 points to claw back. We know it won’t be easy and we know we are pretty much playing Saturday-Tuesday from now until February, but we’ve got some key players back fit now and we’re confident that, with a full squad, we are a main contender in this league.
“We’re still in a fantastic position, six points off third, and we would have to go on a terrible run of losing matches – something which we are not used to doing – for us to lose touch.”
Baker, however, can take a crumb of comfort from the fact that Slough’s fixture backlog is not the most intense in the Southern Premier title race – rivals Hereford have it even worse!
“They still have an FA Cup replay to play and are still in the Trophy so they’ve got an even bigger problem,” Baker added. “Still, they’ve also got a big and very talented squad so I expect them to be well up there come the end.
“We are due to play them on January 6 – FA Cup third round day! In a way, I hope we don’t so they can continue to fly the Southern League flag.”