Stuart Crawford has called on his Hadleigh United squad to prove their championship credentials ahead of a ‘pivotal’ point in the current campaign.
As the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division season draws to its finale, with just four matches remaining, the Brettsiders have seen their seemingly unattainable 19-point advantage at the top of the league in January wiped out completely as they now lead Felixstowe and Walton United by just goal difference.
Ahead of a tricky period — following a visit from Walsham-le-Willows tomorrow (3pm) with a trip to Brantham Athletic on Monday (3pm) — Crawford is desperate to halt a torrid run of form which has seen his side take just one point from their previous five matches.
“We need a win soon because that will give us something to build on at this pivotal point in the season,” he said. “Now is the time to prove why we can be champions and have the belief and confidence to go into the remaining games.
“The immediate upcoming games will both be tough.
“Walsham on their day can beat anyone in this league and I feel Brantham have under-achieved this season.
“It also has that extra incentive of being a local derby and we can’t afford to be as below-par as we have been.
“For me, we have to gain no less than six points from these matches if we are going to stay where we are.
“The main thing is we still have everything to play for despite the abysmal run and we are still in the mix.”
If the Millfield-based outfit are to realise their title aspirations, Crawford believes they will need to rediscover a clinical edge touch that has deserted them in recent weeks.
The manager’s search for goals will not be helped by the absence of a host of his attacking options this weekend with strikers Richard Logan, Tesfaye Bramble and James Blades joining Ryan Stafford and Matt Downing on the sidelines as Crawford looks for an immediate upturn in fortune.
“It has been a very difficult period for us and that needs to change,” he added. “Performances have been okay and we have been in control of matches a lot of the time, but we have just not been clinical enough.
“We are not playing any worse than when we were before but the difference is we were scoring at will.
“That has a detrimental affect on the players and will have an affect on the confidence.
“It also gives the opposition the incentive and encouragement they can win.
“The bottom line is we just haven’t been clinical enough when we’ve created chances and that is not just down to the strikers, that needs to change throughout the team.”