CHELMSFORD City still have plenty of work to do to secure a place in the Blue Square Bet South play-offs this season, according to Glenn Pennyfather.
But the manager’s concerns could be significantly eased with six points from six this week as the Clarets face Hampton & Richmond Borough at home, before an away trip to Dover Athletic.
Last Saturday’s single-goal defeat at Bromley did nothing to help Chelmsford’s bid to finish at least second in the table as Dartford moved into a secure position behind leaders Woking.
But, with third-placed Welling United slipping up surprisingly at Staines Town on Monday, the City boss is taking nothing for granted in the final run-in.
“There’s lots of talk about the play-offs, but with 12 games to go we have to make sure we get in there first,” he said.
“History shows you need about 75 points to secure your place and we want to get to that total as quickly as possible so we don’t have the panic on the last day we’ve had in previous seasons. I want to get the squad ready and up to speed so, as a unit, we’re ready to go.”
Hampton have spoiled Chelmsford’s chances of promotion in the past, while Dover appear to be the only realistic challengers to City’s top five position as they sit in seventh place, 11 points behind but with two games in hand and an expensively-assembled squad.
Glenn is aware his team will need to rectify the issues which saw them lose at Bromley and end a run of nearly an entire year without an away league defeat.
Glenn said: “We didn’t get to grips with the conditions, which weren’t conducive to good football, and if we’d defended properly we could have got a decent point.
“We’ve done well in a number of the games on our run, and some of the most satisfying results were at places where we’d not always fared well in the past, like Hampton.
“Going back further, we played brilliantly at Dover last season and we want to match those sorts of performances again.”
As well as Dover, the Clarets still have to travel to high-fliers Dartford and Sutton United before the end of the season.
Glenn said: “Those games take care of themselves as the players know how important they are and all the sides are battling for position.
“We’re in a similar position to our rivals and sometimes your season can hinge on fitness, form or injuries. All sides have key players and we’re all worried about that, with so little time left.”
Central defender Adam Tann was hoping to get some match minutes under his belt in a reserve team game on Wednesday night, with several other players rated as touch and go for the crucial encounters coming up.
Glenn continued: “Justin Miller will be out for another four or five weeks so he’ll be a big miss for us.
“Anthony Cook’s progressing well but won’t be back in the short term and we’re hoping Sammy Corcoran will recover in time from the dead leg he picked up at Bromley.
“Alex Osborn should recover from his knocks to the ankle, too.”
Another newcomer who is yet to see Clarets service is striker Chris Bryan, whose first few weeks at the club have been blighted by bad weather and illness.
But Glenn confirmed: “When Chris came to us we hit all that snow, then he was ill after that and in his first hard session back he had to pull out with a slight hamstring strain, so he’s been a victim of bad timing.
“I’m looking forward to involving him as he’s a big part of my plans.”