Dave Carter is backing Moneyfields to bounce back to winning ways when they visit Cowes Sports at Westwood Park in the Wessex League premier division tomorrow (3pm).
The 2-0 midweek home derby defeat to AFC Portchester saw Moneys’ lead at the top of the league cut to three points.
Carter insists his side won’t allow the loss to rock their confidence.
‘We are still in the driving seat and are determined to stay there,’ he said.
‘Our sights are still firmly set on promotion and one defeat isn’t going to change that.
‘Portchester are a decent side and we were still without a number of key players.
‘We just had too many players missing and others playing out of position because of that.
‘Unusually for this time of the year we are already halfway through the season.
‘We don’t usually get there until about February so to be ahead with so much of the season completed is a good sign.
‘I reckon if we can win 16 more games then the title will be ours.
‘It is important we bounce back to winning ways and pick up the momentum again.’
Carter is boosted by the return of Nathan Paxton from suspension to give them an extra dimension.
Paxton will give Moneyfields extra height, which they lacked against the Royals.
He also holds the ball up well and scores goals.
The latter is important as leading goalscorer Steve Hutchings doesn’t return from his ban until next week.
Conor Bailey also has one more game to serve while Curtis Da Costa, Dan Hayes and Lewis Fennemore are all injury doubts.
Carter is relieved his team are still top after coming through a difficult period.
Poor discipline has led to them losing players for key games and on top of that they have suffered from injuries to others.
‘It is good to have players coming back in time for the important Christmas period,’ said Carter.
‘We want to stay in the position where other teams are chasing us.
‘For the last eight weeks we have been in the driving seat and that is where we want to stay.
‘Cowes Sports are third from bottom and fighting to avoid relegation.
‘They are a potential banana skin for us but we can’t afford to lose a second successive game.
‘We must be looking to push on.’
Carter accepts the title-chasing clubs are entering a key phase of the season where weather can make a huge difference.
Pitches at this time of year can become difficult and Carter knows his team will need to be able to adapt to stay ahead of their rivals.
He added: ‘We have to show that we can adapt to different conditions.
‘Pitches can be rock hard because of the cold or heavy because of the rain and we have to be able to win on both.’
Moneyfields: Shortt, Giddings, Martin, Shephard, Tigwell, Spurway, Fennemore, Raine, Morgan, Gauntlett, Paxton, Woodward, Tattersall, Austin, Guthrie