Gosport Borough's chance to lay down real marker in Southern League Premier South promotion challenge
Shaun Gale challenged Gosport Borough to show they are serious Southern League Premier South promotion contenders in their difficult run of upcoming fixtures.
The next month or so could prove crucial in shaping where Boro end this season with each of the club's next seven matches all coming against teams currently in the division's top-12.
And after Saturday's visit to face ninth-placed Poole Town, Gosport - currently in fourth - face all three of the teams presently above them in the table in the space of five matches.
A crunch period sees Gale's side host third-placed Hayes & Yeading on Tuesday with the return meeting scheduled for February 12.
Gosport also have games against leaders Farnborough (February 5) and second-placed Metropolitan Police (January 29) crammed into a critical upcoming six-game run.
But with Boro strengthened by the return of senior players such as captain Mike Carter in recent weeks and with two wins from two in 2022, the Boro boss is optimistic his squad can come out of a tricky period with a solid points return.
Gale said: ‘We’re going into a massive run - I like to take one game at a time - but we’re going into a big five or six games coming up against tough opposition.
‘They’re all tough games, we know, but we’ve got Hayes & Yeading twice in the next few weeks, Farnborough, Harrow Borough, so they’re tough, tough games.
‘Obviously Poole, we’re going into that game, they’re always up there, always around it, Tommy (Killick; Poole manager) has always got good teams who make it difficult for you.
‘At this moment in time it’s still in our own destiny of where we finish so we’ve got to leave it and keep it at that - I don’t want to be relying on other teams.
‘If we can get an amass of points, what we can get from the games we’ve got left, we’ve got to pick up as many as we can (points).
‘I’ve got an idea in my head what will get us there (play-offs), but we’re looking one game at a time and the most important game is Poole away on Saturday, which is a tough game and a tough place to go.’
Gale looks set to be handed a further squad boost for the Poole trip with experienced duo Rory Williams and Matt Paterson likely to make returns after recent absences having contracted Covid-19.
Centre-half Ryan Woodford is available again after serving a three-match suspension, although Boro have been dealt the blow of midfielder Elliott Wheeler facing up to six weeks on the sidelines having picked up an ankle ligament injury in last weekend's win over Walton Casuals.