Chichester City are back on track after a little FA Cup hangover – and are being challenged to stay consistent until the end of the season.
Two home wins in four days in the past week have propelled them up to eighth in a tight Isthmian south east table, but the young squad are being told to keep their feet on the ground in order to carry on grinding out results.
Goals by Scott Jones and Jamie Horncastle brought a 2-0 victory over VCD Athletic on Saturday - completing a quickfire league double - and Jones scored the third after a Josh Clack penalty double to see off East Grinstead 3-0 on Tuesday night.
The back-to-back wins followed a run of only one win in six league games, with some fearing the effects of the remarkable FA Cup run might see Chi City sucked into a battle at the bottom of the league.
They are still playing catch-up after that eight-round Cup run and Saturday’s visit to Herne Bay will see them reach the halfway point of their 38-match league campaign with February only a week away.
Coach Darin Killpartrick said this week’s Oaklands Park victories had been very welcome but there was still plenty of hard work ahead of the players and management.
“They were exactly what was needed and it was pleasing to keep two clean sheets,” he said.
“It gives us a bit of momentum and takes us out of the lull that followed the FA Cup run – out of the rut. The hangover after the Cup run was to be expected really, but it didn’t prove to be a bad one for us.
“It’s been hard of late playing on heavy, wet pitches but we have tried to maintain the same approach of playing attractive football with our own philosophy and identity, and it’s very pleasing that that is starting to bring us results again.
“As coaches, we’re still seeing players progress but we’re also seeing some make some rash decisions. That will come. We’re making progress but this is a young team and you won’t get everything right in one go. It will come.”
Killpartrick said he did not think anyone at the club would suddenly start to talk about a push for the play-offs, even though City were now just three points behind fourth and fifth-placed Whyteleafe and Cray Valley PM.
“The number one priority is the same - to make sure we survive in this division,” he said. “We will take it week to week. We’ve played better than in the past two games and got beaten this season, and played worse and won games.
“It’s that sort of league, with a lot of teams of a very similar standard. That’s why it’s so tight points-wise.
“We still have 20 league games to play and that will test us but we must just make sure we stay together and keep on grinding out results.”