Scott Machin knows Kettering Town will need to be “a lot better” than they were at the weekend if they are to take another big step towards the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central title tonight (Tuesday).
The Poppies take on Egham Town at Latimer Park in what is their game in hand on second-placed Bedworth United.
A victory will see them move a huge 12 points clear at the summit with eight games to go.
Kettering did extend their advantage to nine on Saturday as Bedworth lost 1-0 at home to Godalming Town while the Poppies battled out a dreadful 0-0 home draw with Marlow.
Joint-boss Machin is well aware of how important tonight’s clash is in their bid to secure automatic promotion.
And he knows they can’t afford another display like the one served up at the weekend.
“It is a big game against a good team,” Machin said.
“They are a decent footballing side and hopefully that might suit us a bit more but we know we will have to be a lot better than we were at the weekend.
“Everyone knows what is at stake, we are aware that a win will mean a big step towards where we want to be.
“I was very disappointed with the way we played on Saturday.
“I felt we missed a big opportunity and we didn’t impose ourselves on the game in the way we should have done.
“But then I look at it and think ‘we have won seven in a row and then drawn one’. If someone had given me that outcome eight games ago then I would have taken it.
“We will put it down as one of those days and we were fortunate that the team just below us dropped points as well. Things went in our favour.
“The players have been great for us in recent weeks and there was definitely no lack of effort or desire at the weekend.
“We need to make sure our performance is a lot better for what is a very important game tonight.”
The Poppies will have goalkeeper Richard Knight and striker Gary Mulligan available again this evening while Machin is hoping top scorer Dubi Ogbonna can shake off the illness that kept him out of Saturday’s stalemate.
Knight missed the game for family reasons while Mulligan served the last of a three-match ban.
“They are three important players who are going to have key roles between now and the end of the season,” Machin added.
“Gary has given us a really good option since he came here and it was unfortunate that we lost him for three games.
“Richard and Gary are definitely available again and we will have a check on Dubi as well.
“Hopefully he will be okay and if all three are back then it gives us some excellent options.”