Harrow Borough boss will draw on past experience for final day of relegation battle
PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 April 2015
Harrow Borough manager Steve Baker will call upon his previous experience of final-day nerves when his side travel to Leatherhead on Saturday looking to secure their safety.
Goals from Ryan Hope and Marc Charles-Smith gave Borough a 2-0 win in their last home league game of the season against Kingstonian last weekend, leaving their destiny in their own hands on the final day of the season.
Harrow are tied with three other relegation-threatened sides on 50 points in 17th place, and five teams will be battling to avoid the last place in the drop zone – but another win would guarantee Borough’s Premier Division status.
Baker admits it will be difficult to keep his players calm before Saturday’s match, but he believes his own experience as a player will be crucial.
“Nineteen years ago myself and first-team coach Darron Wilkinson were going into the last game of the season with Hayes knowing that we needed three points to win the Ryman League,” he told the Times.
“We managed to do that and, although it’s for safety this time, I can draw upon that experience in our approach for this game.
“I was a player then and the emotion is 10 times worse going into this situation as a manager, but it can only help that we’ve got people in our backroom staff that have been through this before.
“There’s an air of belief around the camp but the hardest thing to do before Saturday is to keep the squad calm.”
Kingstonian went into the weekend’s game with faint hopes of making the play-offs but rarely threatened, with Elvis Hammond coming closest for the visitors when his shot beat keeper Nick Jupp, only to be hacked away by Anthony Page.
Having survived that early scare, the hosts went ahead after 37 minutes when Hope fired home from Charles-Smith’s cross after good work down the left wing.
Despite the gap in the two sides’ league positions, Harrow looked the more threatening, with Lewis Driver guilty of squandering the hosts’ best chance when he fired over from close range early in the second half.
However, Borough didn’t have to wait much longer to double their advantage as Driver was taken down in the box and Charles-Smith stepped up to convert the resulting penalty.
Borough were second from bottom when Baker replaced Dave Anderson at the end of January. At the time he targeted 50 points and his side have gone on to win seven of their 14 league games to reach that target ahead of Saturday’s climatic finale.
“If somebody had offered me the chance when I took over here to be going into the last game of the season with our destiny in our own hands I would have snapped their hand off,” said Baker.
“There’s been no magic formula, it’s a mixture of things. We’ve added four really good players in the areas that we knew we needed to add to. The players that were already here have responded excellently to what we’ve wanted to do and it’s got everyone working in the right direction.
“The boys have got us into a great position but we won’t be taking anything for granted. There’s going to be nerves in the squad but they’ll know that it won’t be any different for the other sides in our situation.”
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