‘Don’t write us off yet’ — that is the message from AFC Sudbury manager David Batch after their winless league run stretched to six games.
The shine of a week, which began with the Yellows celebrating booking their first final appearance in six years, was taken off by their stuttering league run deepening.
A golden opportunity to take points off two sides vying for promotion in Ryman League Division One North slipped through their grasp as Harlow Town held them to a 1-1 draw in Essex on Saturday, before their worst defeat of the season followed at Witham Town (5-1) on Tuesday night.
But a 16-game unbeaten league run up until the end of last month, coupled with some strange results for those around them as the fixture backlog from the wet weather takes its toll, has left AFC still just six points from the top six with 12 games to play.
And Batch, who signed a new two-year deal prior to the Ryman League Robert Dyas Cup semi-final win at Ware, believes they are still well in the race ahead of a home game with Romford (12th) on Saturday (3pm) before a re-arranged fixture at Heybridge Swifts (sixth) on Tuesday (7.45pm).
“Over the last couple of weeks all the football we have had and the points we have dropped you would think we would be miles off,” he admitted, before adding: “But we have gone from five points off to six points off in a week and we are still there with plenty of points to play for.”
Asked if the heavy run of games was behind their league results tailing off, he said: “It has caught up with everyone.
“We lost Tuesday, but from everyone who played Monday and Tuesday, only Witham (of the play-off rivals) won – and that was because they played us.”
Defender Steve Adams (nose) and forward Ollie Hughes (wrist) are set to return Saturday, but midfielder Matt Daniels (groin) is likely to be out for four weeks after going off on Tuesday, while it looks like Steve Spriggs (knee) may not play again this season.
Striker Jamie Forshaw (Norwich United loan) is due to return a week Saturday.
The club have accepted Premier Division Maidstone United’s offer to play the final at their Gallagher Stadium ground on Tuesday, April 8 (7.45pm), which has an artificial 3G pitch.
They have averaged 1,686 fans at home league games this season, with the gate receipts for the final set to be split evenly.
Meanwhile, Mark Pearman has resigned from his position as chief executive after 10 years with the club.
AFC are set to revert to a single entity board of directors fronted by a chairman, with appointments to be made at a shareholders meeting at the end of the season.