By Matt Badcock
Gary McCann says his young Hendon hopefuls have one of the best attributes required for the play-offs – they’re fearless!
A late win against Leatherhead in the final week of the season booked their place in the Bostik Premier top five.
Tonight they play Folkestone Invicta in the semi-final for the chance to play in next Monday’s final and a place at Step 2.
McCann says his players have answered any questions about how they would cope with a demanding run-in but now is not the time to be happy with their lot.
“We’ve had some testing times for a young group, a young squad, but they’ve been fearless,” McCann told The NLP. “If you look at our record against any of the top six or seven, we go into the play-offs full of confidence.
“We’ve managed what we set out for in the summer. The target for any squad you feel is worthy is the play-offs. Some will say it’s to stay in the division or stabilise, our target was the play-offs. We’ve achieved it playing a really attractive brand of football, we’ve scored plenty of goals, but the bigger prize is the next focus.
“As tough as it’s been to get over the line, the next challenge is even bigger. That’s what we all want now.
“It’s an opportunity but that’s all it is. After getting in the play-offs it’s been about getting our head out of the clouds and going again. We want the bigger prize, we really do.”
It’s a welcome return to the play-off shake-up for McCann’s side after two seasons of not challenging. They came on the back of a runners-up finish before a play-off final defeat to Margate.
The long-serving boss says it’s an illustration of patience being a crucial factor when building promotion tilts.
“When you’re working with the resources we are, it takes times to build teams,” he said.
“I’ve built three or four teams, maybe five teams, at the football club. Each time we have a bit of success we do have clubs with more money come and pinch our best – that happens to everybody. This year we’ve got nine on contract and are bit more stable on that front, but I’m sure we’ll have the same challenges.
“The last couple of years have been tough. We’ve had a couple of indifferent years in terms of league position but it takes time.
“You have to take chances of players from lower leagues. Some are a success, some are not – that’s the reality of it.
“Our players have really come together. They’ve had to learn on the job, grow and gain experience while making mistakes.
“Some of the results and performances we’ve got in real testing and trying circumstances have been an absolute credit. That’s why I say they are a really fearless bunch.”
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