Preview: Bateman targets strong finish ahead of crucial Bedworth clash

Steve Bateman
Steve Bateman
  • Bateman focused on securing play-off spot
  • Moles currently lie third with eight games remaining
  • Second-placed Bedworth visit Haywood Way this weekend
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Aylesbury FC manager Steve Bateman is targeting a strong finish to the season as his side look to secure a play-off place.

Following last week’s 1-1 draw at Leighton, the Moles remain third in Division One Central of the Southern League, with six teams competing for the four play-off spots.

“It’s that time of the year when the talking stops and you have to get yourself over that line and get it done.”

Steve Bateman

Aylesbury face two crucial home games this week, first hosting second-placed Bedworth United on Saturday before Egham Town are the visitors to Haywood Way next Tuesday.

A win in tomorrow’s top-of-the-table clash would see FC leapfrog their opponents into second to further cement their place in the play-offs, and with leaders Kettering looking uncatchable, Bateman is now solely focused on making sure his side are in one of those four positions come the end of the season.

He said: “We have a good opportunity on Saturday. If we can beat Bedworth at our place we’ll give ourselves a really good run at it in the final seven games after that.

“We should have more players back. Adam Logie will be available and I’m expecting Ben Stevens and Connor Baker to be considered for selection so that’s three players back that we’ve been missing.

“It’ll be a difficult game. They have a couple of players missing through suspension and they’ve had a little wobble of late and lost some games, but it’s that time of the year when the talking stops and you have to get yourself over that line and get it done.”

An 11-game unbeaten run has seen pre-season title favourites Kettering open up what looks an unassailable 14-point lead in the single automatic promotion place, leaving six teams – Bedworth, Aylesbury, Rugby, Royston, Barton and Hanwell – battling it out for the four play-off spots.

The Moles currently look on course for a top five finish, especially given that five of their remaining eight fixtures are at home, with crucial games to come against Bedworth, Barton and Hanwell, as well as local rivals Aylesbury United.

Bateman added: “You’ve got to say that it’s Kettering’s title to lose so now we’re looking at second to fifth.

“Saturday was one of those disappointing days but we didn’t lose the game, we picked up something and there’s no real damage done. It’s allowed Royston and Barton to close the gap and you’re probably looking at four from six teams for those play-off places.

“We’re still on a reasonable run and now we have to finish strong. That’s what I’ll be asking of the boys, and I’m sure they’ll step up to it.”