Thomas Baillie is taking nothing for granted ahead of a run of fixtures which he has admitted Kettering Town “will be expected to win”.
Six of the Poppies’ next seven games are against teams currently in the bottom half of the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central, starting with tomorrow’s (Saturday) trip to 14th-placed Aylesbury United, who play their home games at Leighton Town.
Kettering remain on top of the table but have seen their lead cut to four points by second-placed Aylesbury after a run of two defeats in the last three games – the latest of which was a 1-0 home loss to Rugby Town on New Year’s Day.
Baillie believes the next few weeks will be telling as far as the title race is concerned.
But after a couple of setbacks in recent matches, he knows the Poppies may have to win a few the hard way in order to maintain their place at the summit.
“It has already been proven this season that if you aren’t switched on and ready then games will be very tough,” the joint-manager said.
“We are confident going into every game but after the last three we have had, we are probably going to have to grind out some results and earn everything.
“We are probably coming into a run of matches where we will be expected to win while the teams around us are heading into runs that we faced through November and December.
“I think the next five or six games will be telling and we want to get maximum points from them. If we were to do that then it will be interesting to see who is still with us.
“We know from what we did last season that any team can go on a run of form that can put them in contention.
“We are now in a situation on Saturday where we could go seven points clear or the gap could be down to one, that’s how close it is at the moment.
“But the fact is if we win our matches the rest will take care of itself.”
James Clifton will miss this weekend’s game as he serves a one-match ban with Ash Robinson likely to fill in at right-back after he returned from holiday.
And Josh Moreman will also be included in the Poppies squad after he was recalled from his loan spell at Stamford this week.