DREAM TEAM:Slough Town co-bosses Neil Baker, left, and Jon Underwood won the Vanarama National League South Manager of the Month award
By Matt Badcock
Neil Baker says Slough Town have learnt valuable lessons to launch a potential play-off push next season – but expects the National League South to be an even tougher nut to crack.
Baker and joint-manager Jon Underwood landed the Vanarama National League manager of the month prize for March after remaining unbeaten and taking 11 of a possible 15 points.
It’s been a solid first season back at Step 2 for the Rebels following last season’s promotion out of a competitive Southern League Premier Division through the play-offs.
And the management duo are pleased with how they’ve fared and believe they will be stronger for the experience next time.
“We’re not quite going to get in the play-offs this season,” Baker told The NLP. “Too many sides would have to drop too many points and we’d probably have to win all our games.
“But what we set out to achieve this season, we’ve done. We said we wanted to be competitive in every game and predominantly we’ve done that. Only three times we’ve been beaten by more than a goal and one of those was at Torquay when we were down to ten men at half-time.
“We felt going into the season we had players who are National League South players and you want to see them compete – we’ve done that.
“We now know we need to add one or two quality players to an already good squad and we can hopefully knock on the door towards those play-offs.
“Obviously next season it’s going to be a bit different with some of the clubs looking like they will come down – it’s not going to get any easier but we feel in a good place.
“We had an FA Cup run again, there’s the money that brings in, and to be safe all season has been really nice.”
After a tricky run of results in February, March brought wins against promotion chasing Billericay and Woking along with a point at Concord Rangers when they were down to ten men for much of the game.
“It’s always nice to get recognition but it’s always down to the team,” Baker said. “We do have an impact, but it’s the players who have won us the award. It’s a collective effort – people like Sam Togwell and Lee Togwell have had such an impact. Lee does a lot of our coaching and Sam is such a leader in our changing room. It’s a good place to be.
“People maybe thought we’d just see the season out and fizzle away. We lost one or two senior players and replaced them with young lads and we’ve had some brilliant results.
“I thought we’d be in the running for it but Ian Herring, at Hungerford, is doing a brilliant job. What they’ve done recently has been unbelievable.”