Hanley Town manager Dean Owen is warning his squad that there are plenty of tough tests to overcome in the remaining weeks of the season.
Town are sitting at the top of the First Division table, have a place in the Reusch First Division Cup final, and haven’t lost a game since October, and Saturday’s win at Rochdale Town was their fifth in succession.
But the home side gave Hanley a tough test, keeping the game scoreless until 14 minutes from time, and Dean believes that the test they faced at the Mayfield Sports Centre is an indication of the type of challenge they will have to overcome many times in the coming weeks.
“We say it to the players every week, that any team in the league can beat another, whether they are at the bottom or the top”, he said.
“Whoever you are playing in this league you are in for a battle, it’s doesn’t matter what team you have got out or who you are playing, especially on some of the pitches at the minute which can be a real leveller.
“If complacency sets in, you go to these sort of places and drop points you shouldn’t be dropping, and of course if you go there as the team at the top of the league, everyone wants to beat you, because that is their cup final.
“We did think it was going to be one of those days on Saturday (at Rochdale) when we just kept going at them and got no reward, but luckily we got the break we needed.
“We just focussed on making sure that the players kept doing the right things.
“With the players we have got, we know that if we keep clean sheets we are always liable to get goals. We didn’t change the game plan and I’m glad we didn’t, and that the lads stuck to what they were doing.
“We ground three points out, lost Theo (Stair) through injury who is our main striker, and still scored three goals and missed a penalty. So it shows the strength in depth of the squad, and showed a different dimension to the team”.
Looking at the challenges ahead, Dean says the aim now is to keep the momentum going to achieve the targets that were set at the start of the season.
“We made it clear at the club that promotion was the target this season”, he said.
“The cup final will be a bonus. We have gradually built up the squad now that it is big enough and strong enough to compete in more than one competition, and it’s great to have competition for places.
“Everyone is fighting for a place, we had three squad rotations against Rochdale, and the lads who have come in are just as strong as the lads they replaced. That is what we need when we are both going for the league and having a cup final to play as well.
“It’s going to be a hard end to the season for us with the games we still have to play, we have a very tough run in.
“But the squad we have is more than capable of keeping us in the position we are in at the moment”.
Source: Hanley Town FC