After suffering their first defeat in nine matches, Ramsbottom United joint-manager Anthony Johnson has challenged his side to put the record straight against Ossett Albion this weekend.
The Rams remain second in Evo-Stik League Division One (North) despite succumbing to fellow play-off hopefuls Curzon Ashton last Saturday.
And Johnson expects preparation ahead of Saturday’s showdown at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium to be spot on as his troops bid to get their promotion push back on course.
“We have to get that winning habit back straight away,” he said.
“Sometimes winning ends up being that much of a habit, the lads turn up and coast to victory without getting out of third gear.
“I think last Saturday against Curzon Ashton we went into the game a little bit expectant and probably thought we could win without having to turn up.
“But that’s not how it works at this level and that is what Saturday is about – getting back to basics, making sure our preparation is spot on and getting that winning habit back.”
Ramsbottom have taken the Evo-Stik league by storm this year after winning promotion as Champions of North West Counties League Division One last April.
And far from thinking Rammy would be daunted in a higher league, Johnson always expected his charges to make an impact in their first season at this level.
“People are surprised because we are a new side,” he added.
“But we are the only team that has won a league in this division in the last twelve months so we’ve got the pedigree.
“Although we probably didn’t expect to be where we are, we expected to do well.
“I wanted to be knocking on the door, giving the good sides games and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
With the season rapidly approaching its business end, the former Clitheroe striker knows a shot at a second successive promotion is well within range.
And Johnson insists the experience of the last few years will hold his Rammy players in good stead with a number of teams vying for a play-off spot.
“We’re in a great position and it’s like anything, the better you do the higher expectations go and that’s happened,” he said.
“If we finish outside the play-offs now people would be disappointed and that’s just because of where we have put ourselves.
“We have been there and done it before, winning the league last year and finishing second the year before that.
“We’ve had teams chasing us and we’ve been under pressure so we have some pedigree and hopefully we can see it out.”
Evo-Stik League Round-up
Evo-Stik Premier Division
Ashton United host Rushall Olympic at Hurst Cross while FC United of Manchester bid to get their promotion bid back on track at Worksop Town.
Evo-Stik League Division One (North)
Some of the division’s leading lights have been stopped in their tracks in recent weeks with a number looking to reignite their promotion push.
New Mills have lost their previous two and head to Farsley, while Trafford – without a win in five – host in-form Bamber Bridge.
Curzon Ashton and Mossley both hit the M62 with Harrogate Railway Athletic and Ossett Town respectively waiting in the wings.
Radcliffe Borough are at Goole while Andy Heald takes his Salford City side to Cantilever Park to face Warrington Town.
Picture courtesy of Rob Moss, with thanks