Ely City manager Brady Stone has challenged his side to prove their promotion credentials ahead of a crucial period for the Robins.
Following relegation from the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division last season, City have made a comfortable transition to life in the First Division and have put themselves in a strong position to make an immediate return to the level above, sitting second in the table just past the halfway stage of the campaign.
Back-to-back wins has left Stone’s charges three points ahead of third-placed King’s Lynn Town Reserves in the final promotion place with the sides meeting on Saturday (3pm).
And although the manager has been delighted with his side’s efforts in the first half of the season, he is well aware that fixtures such as Saturday’s could go a long way to defining their final position come the end of the season.
“The main thing for us from last season was to keep the main bulk of the squad and we did that,” said Stone, whose side welcome runaway leaders Wivenhoe Town a week later.
“We have also added a further six of real quality and that experience of last season has put us in good stead for this year.
“It is great to see that we have adapted so well to the league and hopefully we can keep going and get back up.
“We were aiming to be in the top five at Christmas to give ourselves a chance and we are there, so we just need to keep doing what we are doing.
“We are right up in a good position and so if we keep doing what we’re doing and concentrating on ourselves then we have a good chance.
“The lads will have a point to prove against King’s Lynn, they beat us earlier this season and I used to play for them as well and so there are a few incentives for us.
“We then face Wivenhoe, who are unbeaten. But we hold no fear of facing them, and if we can take four points from those two games I’ll be very happy; that’s the challenge for the players.”
The Robins head into the encounter in good form, having followed up a comfortable 3-0 win over Cornard United on December 19 with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against March Town on Monday.
But despite being less than impressed with the level of their last performance, Stone did hail his side’s battling qualities and spoke of the importance of their ability to ‘win ugly’.
“I was delighted with the victory and another clean sheet but the performance was terrible, I think it is the worst we have played,” he added.
“However, sometimes you have to win ugly and that is exactly what we did.
“Last year if we had played like that we would have lost the game but we have gained that winning mentality this season and hopefully if our backs are against the wall we can come out with the win.”