Boss Bateman eyes “opportunity” after Moles return to form

Steve Bateman
Steve Bateman

It’s been a frustration 2016 so far for Steve Bateman and his side but the Moles boss remains confident Aylesbury can challenge for a play-off place this season.

A series of postponements has left FC playing catch-up with the rest of the Division One Central promotion chasers but following two wins in two and with a number of games in hand, Bateman is targeting a top five spot.

The Moles are currently eighth, eight points behind fifth-placed St Ives Town with four games in hand.

“The opportunity is still there and the desire from the group is very much still there and I think they realise that it’s wide open,” said Bateman.

“AFC Rushden have lost two or three, Chalfont have dropped points and we’ve won a last couple of midweek games and all of a sudden the gap closes and we’ve still got our games in hand.

“It’s what we do with those games. You’d rather have the points in the bag but the opportunity is there.

Brian Haule

Brian Haule

“I’m calling in all of the squad I’ve got and I’m hoping to see a return to action this week for people like Kyle Anthony who we’ve missed for two or three months.

“It’ll be a real squad effort to play that catch up with midweek games right the way through to April so we haven’t got much margin for error in terms of any more bad weather otherwise we’re into Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday which we’d like to avoid.

“We’ve got a run of games now to get ourselves stuck into. Apart from the Bedford game where we looked really rusty, we’ve done OK and looked pretty solid so we’ve got to keep that going.

“We’re still very much in the frame, certainly for the play-offs, and no one has runaway with it yet to a point where you feel there’s an obvious winner.

“It’s down to somebody to show that greater consistency between now and the end. Our season is down to 14 games and we have a cup final to enjoy but that’s at the end of it all.

“The first aim is to get into the top five then to cement a place if we can and see where it takes us.”

Aylesbury’s latest win came on Saturday when a brace from Brian Haule helped the Moles snatch a stoppage time 3-2 win over Uxbridge.

Bateman added: “Uxbridge is always a difficult place to go to get a result and so it proved to be because it wasn’t until a couple of minutes into stoppage time until we finally got our noses in front.

“It was one of those days. We had a good result at home to Petersfield in the week and we were looking to keep that going but a couple of defensive faux pas put us behind which is unlike us.

“Prior to Saturday we had only let in 27 goals which is one of the better records in the division but we gifted them an early goal.

“We got back into the game and could have gone ahead but then right on half-time we gifted them a penalty, but I got a response from the players.

“We spoke at half-time and made a bit of an adjustment and Brian Haule’s in a rich vein of goalscoring form at the moment and came up trumps for us with a couple of good finishes on Saturday and I was delighted to get away with three points.

“We could have come away with nothing through our own inadequacies on the day but overall I thought we did enough to edge it and we’ve always got this capability to finish strong in games and get late winners which has served us well this year.”

Aylesbury are away to Fleet this evening.