January a crucial month in AFC Sudbury's pursuit of the Bostik League North Division play-offs
AFC Sudbury boss Mark Morsley has said that January has emerged as the crucial month for his young Bostik League North Division side’s campaign.
His comments follow his side’s 3-2 derby win over Bury Town on New Year’s Day to leapfrog their rivals and start the year ‘flirting around the play-offs’.
But, in order to remain in this sixth place, they will face a tough task with Morsley’s side due to face three of the top five teams this month.
It will begin with fifth-placed Aveley at home on Saturday (3pm), a team a place above them in the table but with a five-point gap.
Morsley said: “January is a big month for us, I’m focusing on the next few games as critical to how our season is going. I’ve been looking at it and thinking that we will have a much better idea of where we are.
“Because look at who we’re playing, we’ve got Aveley next week, and then several of the teams above us, it’s going to be four very tough games this month and that will indicate to us where we are.
Morsley is not resting the success of the season on the team’s next few games, aware that a season is made up of more than just three or four fixtures, but knows a play-off spot is within grasp for his side.
He said: “If we win all four games, then we’ll probably make the play-offs – but it’s actually probably ahead of the game. We’re not yet ready for Step 3 football, we will be, but we’re not quite yet.
“That said, it is nice for us to be flirting around the play-offs and see what happens and how we deal with that; but, for me, we’ve already taken the big step forward I wanted this season.
“I don’t get too excited when we win and I don’t get too down when we lose because it’s about 40 or 50 games in a season, not just a few.”
He added that one of the big positives from the season so far is in the support coming from the stands – with spectators getting behind the players and manager like never before.
“We will carry on with that patient building process and, the really great thing is, more and more supporters are buying into that now,” he said.
“Last season, there was a lot of criticism of mistakes the youngsters made, but games like the one at Dereham (an 8-2 victory for Sudbury) help people see the potential and where we could be in a few year’s time.”
He pointed out that his young side, mostly graduates or current students of their full-time Academy, are years away from their prime with as long as a decade to develop and grow as a team.
He said his target is a play-off place in the ‘coming seasons’ but any experience gained ahead of time can only be a ‘good thing’.
“The foundations are there,” he said. “The Bury game proved that.”