Nathan Stainfield believes third place – and a play-off semi-final at home – would be “a fantastic achievement” for Spalding United.
The Tulips have six games to go in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division South’s regular campaign as they look to keep alive those dreams of promotion.
They face trips to Witton Albion tonight and Kidsgrove Athletic on Saturday before three home games in the final four fixtures.
Tulips skipper Stainfield said: “From my point of view, this season is the hardest I’ve ever known in this league.
“There are a lot of good teams and you never look at the fixture list expecting to collect three points because every side has got something about them.
“We have been in the top three from the start so it will be a fantastic achievement to stay up there until the end of the season.
We know what we’ve got to do. Every game is tough and we just have to keep going.Nathan Stainfield
“It has taken a lot of effort mentally and physically to get this far.
“We had a terrible time in November when we lost a few games. It was a strange period when we could have buried our heads in the sand and felt sorry for ourselves.
“Then we had the change of management but nobody can blame Dave Frecklington for going to a higher level and a bigger club.
“Chris Rawlinson has kept stability and done a good job since he took charge.
“Most of the squad have played enough seasons in non-League football to know the commitment needed.
“So there are no excuses about playing away tonight and Saturday.
“We know what we’ve got to do. Every game is tough and we just have to keep going.
“We’ll see what happens around us too because all of our rivals play each other.
“The fixture list makes it look tasty until the end of the season.
“There are a lot of games coming up in just a couple of weeks.
“Hopefully we can put in a good performance at Witton tonight regardess of what happens in terms of the final score.
“They have got everything to lose because they are going for the league title.
“This is a massive game for them as it’s the first time since the opening weeks of the season when they could be on top of the table.
“It was a bit strange when we lost at home to Witton but they are a strong, physical side who look solid all over the pitch. You can see why they are challenging for top spot.”
Spalding are looking to hit back immediately from last weekend’s 2-0 away defeat to Stocksbridge Park Steels.
Stainfield added: “It was just one of those days.
“We did so well winning 4-0 at Leek Town the previous Saturday but, unfortunately, we had a bad day this time.
“You have to accept that these things happen and just move on quickly.
“We can only look after our own business.
“We looked tired but I must give credit to Stocksbridge Park Steels as well.
“They have got some good individuals in the team and they deserved to win. Fair play to them.
“They had nothing to lose so they played with a lot of freedom.”