Preview: Bateman in bullish mood ahead of crunch Kettering clash

Aylesbury FC can close the gap to just two points on Kettering with a win this weekend
Aylesbury FC can close the gap to just two points on Kettering with a win this weekend

Steve Bateman says his Aylesbury FC side are full of confidence ahead of this weekend’s crunch title clash with league leaders Kettering Town.

The Moles have performed above expectations this season to sit third in Division One Central of the Southern League, and a win on Saturday would see them cut the gap to just two points on Kettering.

Bateman says the result will not make or break their season, however, with his first aim to cement a play-off place.

He said: “It’s not a game that will define the outcome of our season because there’s still a good chunk of games to go, but we can certainly do ourselves a power of good if we go there and get a positive result and I see no reason why not.

“Kettering are a decent side but they’re not unbeatable – they’ve lost at home a couple of times and only last weekend AFC Hayes gave them a run for their money before succumbing to a late penalty, so we have to go there with confidence and looking to show them what we’re all about.

“When you look at the expectations outside of our club at the start of the season, nobody would have put us in the position we’re in, it was ourselves and myself in particular who felt we could challenge.

“We’re pleased to be where we are. Kettering have pretty much led from day one but we go there with confidence.”

Bateman has no fresh injury worries ahead of the clash with a full squad available for the trip to Latimer Park.

He added: “I’ve got no injury concerns at this stage so the difficulty I’ll have at the weekend is picking the 11 to start because they’re looking at me and everybody wants to start.

“It’s a nice problem to have and a problem I want every week. We’ve rotated it around and everybody has taken the opportunity to remind me what they’ve got to offer.

“Yes, we want to win but it’s not going to make or break our season, but it’s an opportunity to claw the gap back and keep the pressure on everyone else including Kettering.”

Last weekend, FC were due to entertain Egham Town but both sides were left frustrated by the weather as heavy rain forced a postponement, much to the frustration of Bateman .

“I think it was the right call,” added the Moles boss. “But it was a borderline decision – there had been a lot of effort through the week to return the playing surface to flat after it had been churned up.

“It was just frustrating that it was so late in the day.

“I was on the pitch, their manager was on the pitch and I could see the concern the ref had about one of the goalmouth areas. It wouldn’t have been pretty to watch and it would have caused the pitch to churn up, but both sides were there and wanted to play.

“We wanted to build on the Uxbridge result because I’ve always seen them as a very tough nut to crack but we got over the line having given them a goal start and we were keen to keep the pressure on those around us by picking up points, but it was one of those frustrating days.”