Play-offs not out of our reach, insists Harrow Borough boss

PUBLISHED: 10:00 29 January 2016

Harrow Borough manager Steve Baker. Pic: TGSPHOTO

Harrow Borough manager Steve Baker. Pic: TGSPHOTO

TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League images are subject to DataCo Licencing restrictions

Harrow Borough boss Steve Baker believes the next 10 games will reveal whether or not lingering thoughts of the play-offs are a mere pipe-dream.

Spencer McCall’s second-half strike clinched a 2-1 win at home to Billericay Town on Saturday in the club’s first game for a month after of a run of six consecutive postponements.

Although the inactivity saw them slip five places in the table, Borough are still nearer the play-off scrap than the relegation zone, and Baker is refusing to give up on the end of season knockout stages just yet.

However, he admits a difficult set of fixtures – starting with Saturday’s trip to title favourites Dulwich Hamlet – will test that resolve to the limit.

“We have a tough run of games and the next 10 should show us where our season is heading,” Baker told the Times.

“I seem to have the league table in front of me 23 hours a day and it shows we are 14 points ahead of the bottom four and 10 off the play-offs.

“So the motivation at the minute is to get to 50 points as quickly as possible because that indicates you are safe in this league. Then after that, who knows?

“We are a side going in the right direction. Every year it seems one of the play-off contenders come through late so you never know.”

Baker admits he had almost forgotten what a dugout looked like having had six postponements since the last time his team kicked a ball in the 5-5 draw with local rivals Hendon on Boxing Day.

His team initially looked rusty too and it needed a combination of debutant keeper Brendan Hazlett and Shaun Preddie to stop Jordan Cox firing the visitors ahead inside a minute.

The reprieve did not last long and, given a second sight of goal four minutes later, Cox made no mistake.

It would have been a long way back if the visitors’ striker had not fired wide minutes later when clean through once more.

Instead, Borough fought back and levelled on 21 minutes when Lewis Driver rose highest at the far post to meet Harry Newman’s free-kick with a downward header beyond Jack Giddens.

The turnaround was complete four minutes after the restart when Newman advanced down the left before playing in Driver, who beat two defenders in getting to the by-line before crossing for McCall to glance home his header from six yards out.

Driver struck the post with another header 10 minutes later, but after that it needed good saves by Hazlett from Teddy Nesbitt and Cox to ensure the win.

“We trained hard over the enforced break, but there is no substitute for games and we saw that in the first 15 minutes and the last 15, where we looked like a side who had not played for a while,” added Baker.

“Once we found our rhythm we were excellent and the better side for the hour in between, but that last 15 minutes we were heavy- legged on a very heavy pitch and I wasn’t sure we would hang on.”

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