Hemel Hempstead Town manager Dean Brennan has warned his players that they must be on their game on Saturday if they are going to beat Conference South strugglers Hayes & Yeading.
Hemel go into the game on the back of a dramatic last-gasp draw with table topping Bromley last weekend, while Hayes have recently appointed Tristan Lewis as their new manager and have enjoyed three clean sheets on the bounce – including a 0-0 stalemate against bottom side Staines Town on Tuesday night.
“I watched Hayes on Tuesday and they defended really well against a Staines side that had to win the game,” said Brennan.
“For Hayes it was important that they didn’t get beaten. They set their stall out and followed their gameplan and a 0-0 draw was probably fair so we know that it’s going to be a tough game on Saturday.
“If you’re not on your game in this league you don’t win games. Bromley drew at Hayes a few weeks ago and had to score in the 90th minute so that tells you everything you need to know.
“They have had three clean sheets in a row, they have promoted their assistant manager to manager and they’ve got lots of endeavour.
It’s down to our players to perform and they know that they have to be on their game.Hemel Hempstead Town manager Dean Brennan
“There’s a reason why they are down the bottom end of the table, that’s definitely true, but they looked very organised when I watched them the other evening and I know quite a lot about a lot of their players.
“It’s down to our players to perform and they know that they have to be on their game. If you’re going to win games at this level, everyone has to be on it because it’s a ruthless league.
“I think the ending to the Bromley game will give the players a bit of belief. A lot of them get disappointed with themselves because they’ve got so much ability and they know that we should have more points.
“But the biggest thing is that you take it one game at a time – Saturday is a massive opportunity for everybody individually and collectively as a team, to get ourselves up to 52 points.”
Hemel have only won one of their last six league games, but the Tudors are still in with an outside chance of making the playoffs. Whether or not this happens, Brennan believes his side can be proud of what they have achieved so far.
He said: “To finish in the top 10 would be unbelievable – if you look at the teams that are underneath us, teams like Sutton, they would bite your hand of to be where we are.
“Out of all the teams promoted last season – in either the Conference North or Conference South – we are doing the best. All in all we are delighted with the position we are in, even though I would like us to be at the top of the table.
“One of the problems that we have had this season is that the players have had too many excuses. Another is that we have used too many players and my team selection has been too inconsistent, but it’s always down to the players to nail down a position.
“We’ve been good in the sense that we’ve only lost nine games, but we haven’t won enough and we haven’t kept enough clean sheets.
“Regardless, this season has been a fantastic learning curve, no matter what happens over the next eight games.
“It’s been great both on and off the field, and we know that we have got a lot of improvements to make in both areas. But we will enjoy the rest of the season and see where that takes us.”