Bateman backs Moles to kick on in second half of season

Steve Bateman
Steve Bateman
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Aylesbury FC boss Steve Bateman believes there’s “more to come” from his side in the second half of the season.

Having eyed promotion from Division One Central at the start of the season, Bateman’s side are currently well-placed in fifth at the halfway mark.

The Moles had suffered a brief blip earlier in the campaign, but three wins from their last three – including a victory over leaders Chalfont St Peter – has put them back in the promotion picture.

They were unable to build on that good form over the Christmas period, though, with both games postponed due to waterlogged pitches.

Speaking about the season so far, Bateman said: “It’s been a funny one in some respects. I think the league itself is wide open and there for the taking but at the moment nobody seems to want to grab it by the horns, ourselves included.

“We’ve been a little bit frustrated because at times we’ve had a step forward and then a couple of steps back.

“We’ve dropped some points when we would have expected to have done better but we’re in a healthy position and it’s now about pushing on.

“I would’ve liked to have played over the Christmas period having come off the back of a couple of good results because we won three games in a week and kept a couple of clean sheets and there’s a real good mood in the camp and a togetherness that I’ve not seen consistently enough.

“We’ve had some self-evaluation among the group and there’s been an excellent response but obviously there were games called off due to waterlogged pitches.”

Having clocked up 40 points from 22 games, Aylesbury find themselves nine points adrift of leaders Chalfont with two games in hand.

“We’re comfortable with where we are but I’m expecting more to come from us in the remaining games and as I’ve stressed to the players, no team is running away with it,” added the Moles manager.

“No team has shown the consistency that Kettering had started to find this time last year so we’re in that mix and it’s for us now to continue the form we had found just before Christmas and push on.

“The first aim is to cement ourselves in that top five and then see what happens.

“We’ve beaten Royston and we won at Chalfont who are the present leaders so I know that on our day we can compete with any team in this league and it’s about that magic word consistency.

“The players have got the bit between their teeth and I believe in the group we’ve got.

“I’m always looking to see if there is anything we can add to our current group but it has to be better than what we’ve got and I still believe there’s more to come as we look to stamp our mark on this division.”

This weekend, the Moles are due to host mid-table Petersfield at Haywood Way.

Bateman added: “We’ve not seen Petersfield yet this season. They’ve been a bit up and down and our home form has been good generally so we’ve got to look to keep that going.

“We’ve been hard to beat in recent weeks and even if I look right the way through the season, it’s not our defensive frailties that have been the problem because we’ve got one of the lowest goals against in the division as things stand.

“Sometimes we’ve not converted the chances we’ve created and that’s cost us dearly.

“Lapses in concentration late in games have also cost us. We were 2-1 up at Chalfont and ended up the losing the game and then we drew 3-3 at home to Fleet after being 3-1.

“So it’s about having a bit more concentration and focus and I still think we’ve got players that can convert those chances and we’ve started to do that – the results show that.

“That’s what we’ve got to continue to focus on.”