Newmarket Town boss Kevin Grainger has warned his side must lose their naivety as the club consider applying for promotion.
Having enjoyed a blistering start to the new Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division season, the Jockeys find themselves perfectly poised for a promotion challenge, sitting in third place, nine points adrift of table-toppers Norwich United.
However, it could have been just five points had Town been able close out matches in recent weeks as Fakenham Town snatched a 91st-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw before Felixstowe and Walton United did the same last time out to seal a 2-2 draw.
And Grainger —whose side were eliminated from the Red Insure Thurlow Nunn League Cup in a 4-2 defeat to Saffron Walden in between the draws—is well aware his side must tighten up as he welcomes back a host of first team players.
“We have been a bit naiveand that has cost us which has been frustrating,” he said. “That needs to change because the club still want to make that next step up and we are still considering applying for promotion.
“However ,I’m not overly concerned because we have had players out injured so it has been difficult.
“The good news is that Ross Patterson, Scott Patterson and Richard Chadwick should return so that will help.”
An injury crisis has also seen Mildenhall Town suffer in recent weeks as they aim to halt a winless run of four matches at Haverhill Rovers tomorrow (3pm).
Town have shipped eight goals in the past two matches, four in each, the latest loss being a 4-2 defeat at home to Kirkley and Pakefield.
And with the likes of defenders Dave Werthmann and Dan Hitching possibly still unavailable, striker Richard Logan could be set to deputise at the back again as assistant manager Alan Alsop revealed his annoyance.
“It is frustrating because we are not playing badly but are being punished,” said Alsop, whose side also travel to higher league AFC Sudbury on Tuesday (7.45pm) in the Suffolk Premier Cup. “We are struggling with injuries and are very light at the back which is a concern.
“We are better than our league position shows (14th) because we know we can do better.”
Another side suffering from defensive frailties in recent weeks have been relegation-threatened Ely City.
Having enjoyed back-to-back league wins, overcoming FC Clacton and Gorleston in previous weeks, the Robins have reverted back to their winless form, shipping 14 goals in the process with successive 7-0 defeats away at Norwich United and at home to Ipswich Wanderers.
Despite the dent to their goal difference, the club still sit above basement side Diss Town, but are now nine points adrift of safety and FC Clacton in 17th place.
Player-manager Brady Stone will now be hoping to get over the recent blip when they travel to Walsham-le-Willows tomorrow (3pm) as they aim to close the gap on those directly above them and ease their drop fears.
In Ryman League Division One North, recent draw specialists Soham Town Rangers will be aiming to secure their first win in four when they travel to struggling Heybridge Swifts tomorrow (3pm).
Rangers halted a run of back-to-back defeats with a 2-2 at home to Ware, before being held by the same score line away at Brentwood last time out.
The results leave Soham in 10th place, eight points adrift of fifth placed Thurrock—who they face away on Tuesday evening (7.45pm)— in the final play-off berth.