HALSTEAD Town manager Jimmy Holder has hailed his side for re-writing expectations laid down at the start of the season.
The Rosemary Lane outfit had planned to push for a 10th placed finish to qualify for the FA Cup the following campaign but find themselves riding high in fourth position in the Ridgeons League First Division with five games to go – leaving them aiming for the top six.
A 4-0 home win over local rivals Cornard United on Saturday made it three straight victories since the snow interrupted the fixture list and they are now on course to complete the season with a straight run of wins.
But Holder is not eyeing up the second automatic promotion spot at this stage, being currently 10 off both the top two.
He said: “There is a big gap and all we can do is win our games.
“We set out a target of winning the last nine and we’re nearly half way.”
Of surpassing the season’s target, he said: “Our original plan was 10th – we wanted to be in the top 10 – but someone has now changed that to sixth and it certainly wasn’t me! Fourth I would be absolutely delighted with though.”
Holder sees hosting Stowmarket Town on Saturday (3pm) as very similar to playing fellow basement dwellers Cornard United, who started with just 10 men for the first five minutes, adding they will have to create their own high tempo.
Cornard United manager Chris Symes hit out at the referee’s performance after the 4-0 defeat in their local derby in Halstead on Saturday, saying he was so infuriated he went into the official’s dressing room for the first time in 30 years in the dugout.
He said: “Our captain (Dave Beckett) who got sent off had his feet together lying on the floor.
“Two players were kicking him and the referee said he had high feet – Halstead’s bench were hysterical.”
Cornard have a weekend off before hosting league leaders Thetford Town again, who beat them 10-0 just last month.
Long Melford manager Jason Maher is hellbent on qualifying for next season’s FA Cup after his side closed the gap to 10th placed Swaffham Town to a point after defeating strugglers Downham Town 2-1 with the help of a penalty he admitted was fortunate.
“A top 10 finish is really important for the club, both in terms of prestige and financially,” he said. “It was a good win on Saturday, we played really well in the second half and should have scored more.”
Maher expects to have a fully fit squad for the trip to sixth-placed March Town United on Saturday (3pm) with the exception of long-term absentee Dan Grindrod (broken leg).
Hadleigh United have signed Leiston’s title-winning central defender Mark Goldfinch, 30, on loan from the Ryman Division One North leaders until the end of the season.
Manager Stuart Crawford was impressed with Goldfinch’s debut in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at home to leaders Ely City, their third straight loss, and has revealed he would love to make his move run beyond the end of the season.
The Millfield manager has already verbally committed himself for the 2012/13 season and has signed up eight of the existing squad, including 13-goal winger Danny Allen.
The Brettsiders host title-challengers Wroxham at the Millfield on Saturday (3pm).