Howell keeps Harrow Borough focused for final battle
PUBLISHED: 16:14 27 April 2011
GERARD FARRELL / DZ PICTURES; TEL: 0044-7831-396-923
HARROW Borough boss David Howell insists his team will feel no pressure in this weekend’s crunch clash with Cray Wanderers for a play-off spot.
Borough, currently fifth in the Ryman League Premier Division, will definitely qualify for the promotion play-offs if they win their final game of the regular season at Earlsmead on Saturday.
Howell’s side are probably least fancied among the remaining contenders – Tonbridge Angels, Bury Town, Lowestoft Town, Kingstonian and Canvey Island.
The Harrow manager declared: “It’s a cup final – a one-off – and there’s no pressure on the players. I’ve been saying that to them for the last three or four weeks, the lads have remained focused and we’re still in there.
“If you’d said to me at the start of the season ‘we’re at home last game, we need to win to make the play-offs’, that would have sounded pretty good, so I can’t complain.”
Yet Howell acknowledged there was a mood of despondency in the Borough camp following their 1-1 draw with neighbours Wealdstone on Monday, a result that enabled Tonbridge and Bury to leapfrog them in the table.
It means that, unless other results go in their favour this weekend, Borough are likely to travel should they reach the play-offs, as the teams finishing second and third in the league earn home advantage.
“The game was there for the taking,” added Howell. “It was one of the few local derbies where I thought we were comfortably the better side and had the better chances, but that doesn’t count for anything unless you convert them. “That’s why they’re disappointed – if you boss it, you’ve got to get the return from bossing it. If we’d won it would have put us in a very strong position.
“But Harrow Borough have never done anything straightforward – I think we only know one way and that’s the hard way. We’ve got to dust ourselves down, do some light training and get ready for Cray.”
Left-back Chris King could be back in contention for Saturday, while striker Rocky Baptiste (Achilles) is expected to be fit along with midfield duo Dewayne Clarke and Ryan Watts, who have both been nursing knocks.
Ironically, Wealdstone could do their neighbours a favour as they travel to third-placed Bury Town in their final game, but Stones boss Gordon Bartlett observed: “It’s in their hands, so it’s nothing to do with us.
“We want to go to Bury and win – maybe they’re feeling the pressure and we certainly don’t want to make it easy for them, but it’s not about Bury, it’s about us.
“The lads have worked very hard this season and I don’t think halfway up the table is just reward. We’ve paid the price for inconsistency and naivety, but hopefully we’ll learn from it and be better equipped for next year.”
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