Alex Pike believes his Gosport Borough side have yet to realise they can be genuine promotion challengers this season.
The Borough boss saw his troops claim a creditable 1-1 draw at leaders Boreham Wood at the weekend to maintain their unbeaten away record this season and move up to fifth place in the Vanarama Conference South.
They face another stern examination with their third tough away trip in a week when they visit third-placed Ebbsfleet United tonight (7.45pm).
But Pike has faith his men can compete with a side which has been widely tipped for promotion.
He said: ‘I think my players know how good they are individually.
‘But collectively, they need to start realising how good they are.
‘They can achieve anything they want to achieve this season, so why shouldn’t we aim high?
‘If you set your standards high and you fall a bit short, you’ve got the safety net of the play-offs.
‘But if you set your sights on the play-offs and you fall short, you are nowhere.
‘As manager, I can look at the bigger picture but I just want the players to stay focused on each game.
‘Ebbsfleet have got the tag of having a large budget and they have got some very good players there.
‘Sometimes, as we all know, you can’t buy the league.
‘But I think this game will be just as difficult as it was at Boreham Wood, if not more difficult.
‘They are a quality side.’
At this stage last season, Borough had already lost seven matches on the road and had managed just one away victory.
But it’s a very different tale this time around.
They have netted five wins and two draws as they look to avenge last season’s 2-1 loss in the corresponding fixture.
Pike said: ‘Two years ago, it seemed like we couldn’t buy a win away from home.
‘Ebbsfleet were better than us last season but at that stage, everyone looked better than us!
‘But now we look solid and we are a more difficult side to beat. We’ve got goals in us and we have got goals all around the park.
‘It was pleasing I made one change at the weekend – in Tom Dunford – and he popped up and scored the goal. I thought he had a very good game.’
Pike also hinted he may be looking to freshen the side up to cope with a tough run of games.
But he has sent out four players on temprorary deals with other clubs, with Robbie Matthews (Dorchester), Ben Gerring (Hayes & Yeading), Ashley Harris (Horndean) and Dan Woodward (Petersfield Town) departing in the past week.
Pike said: ‘I will have to look at the squad and see what we do because it’s tough to play three games in quick succession against good opposition.
‘The fixture list hasn’t been too kind to us in having Bath, Boreham Wood and Ebbsfleet away.
‘It will take a lot out of the players, so we have to be sensible.
‘Four have gone out to get games and I shall monitor their progress.
‘We will need them over Christmas and as the season goes on and I need them to be ready for when they are called upon.’
GOSPORT (from): Ashmore, Forbes, Pearce, Poate, Williams, Dunford, Carter, Smith, Wooden, Bennett, Paterson, Molyneaux, Wilde, Saez, Ramsey, Wort