Seb Hayes still sees winning a cup as the priority for Holbeach United this season – despite seeing them climb up to second in the ChromaSport UCL Premier Division table.
The Tigers have worked their way into the title picture after a run of six wins in their last eight games, including last weekend’s thumping 6-0 victory at Wellingborough Whitworth.
That leaves the boys in black and yellow just eight points behind leaders Newport Pagnell Town with two games in hand, but Hayes is adamant that his team are doing nothing more than “ground work” at the moment.
Indeed, he’s having nothing to do with any title talk – insisting that things will look clearer after Holbeach’s next five games.
They include Saturday’s home date with fellow high-fliers Rothwell Corinthians (3pm) and the trip to Kirby Muxloe the following weekend, plus the three Christmas crackers against Deeping Rangers, Wisbech Town and Newport Pagnell.
But with a Lincs Senior Trophy final showdown (the Tigers beat Bourne Town 2-1 on Wednesday) on the horizon and the UCL KO Cup semi-final upcoming at Yaxley on January 9 – Hayes sees that as their best bet for silverware.
“What we’ve done so far this season is give ourselves a chance,” enthused the Holbeach boss. “But the period from October to December is ground work, nothing more.
“As far as I’m concerned, the cups are still the priority this season. Simply because, if you take the romance of the title out of the equation, we’ve only got to win three more games to win two cups.
“We’ve still got 23 league games left to play, a lot can happen. You have to look at things logically.
“I’m being realistic. Don’t get me wrong, I’d absolutely love to win the league as a manager of this team. It’s also great that people are now talking about us as title hopefuls.
“We’re in a good position and have a three-point cushion over both Deeping and Wisbech, which I’d like us to still have ahead of the Christmas games against them.
“These next five games are very, very important in our season and we’ll see where we are afterwards.”
Holbeach are defending an unbeaten home record against Rothwell this weekend, having won eight and drawn one of their nine league games at Carter’s Park this season – conceding just five goals in the process.
But they did lose the reverse fixture 2-0 in October, a result that ended their run of eight victories on the spin.
The eighth-placed visitors are only four points behind the Tigers and are chasing their best UCL Premier Division finish in recent history.
Hayes added: “We’ll not take Rothwell lightly – they beat us last time we played.
“They are a very difficult side to play against and we know that as well as anybody.
“We’ve got to keep our eyes on the ball and take them very seriously, we can’t afford to slip up.”
Meanwhile, Hayes is hopeful that defender Joe Braithwaite will return to the club just two weeks after his departure.
The centre back walked away from Carter’s Park after a bust-up with the Tigers chief and his number two Daz Edey, but it seems both parties now want to resolve the issue.
Matt Warfield (suspended) misses Saturday’s game against Rothwell, while defender Stacy Cartwright should be fit to return for the festive fixtures.