WIVENHOE TOWN manager Mo Osman hopes his side can clamber out of the relegation places - rather than relying on a “get out of jail” reprieve.
The Dragons gave their Thurlow Nunn League survival chances a major boost after winning 3-2 at FC Clacton on Monday.
They remain third from bottom in the premier division but are now two points behind Hadleigh United, heading into tomorrow’s home match against Fakenham Town.
“The job isn’t done and we’re still in the bottom three, but we’ve given ourselves a chance,” said Osman.
“Of course, there’s still the chance of a reprieve but I’m not even thinking along those lines.
“I just want to get out of the bottom three and that’s the way I’ve felt all season.
“We’ll have to perform to our best but if we can stay up, it will give the players belief and the desire to come back next season.
“If there’s a get out of jail card we’ll take it, but we want to stay up on our own merit.
“That’s what we’ve always wanted to do and with three games to go, who knows?
“If we play like we did at Clacton, hopefully we’ll be alright.”
Osman admits it has been a difficult season off the pitch, with a succession of players moving on.
He said he always expected things to get worse before they got better, given the exodus, but has praised those who stayed for stepping up to the plate.
“A lot of players jumped ship when we went so many games without winning,” he said.
“They weren’t brave enough to stick around.
“We must have lost ten players in the space of eight weeks, which meant our pre-season work effectively went out of the window.
“So many players who were with us in the summer had suddenly gone.
“It was effectively a clean sheet and a case of starting again.
“We knew it was going to get worse before it got better, so full credit to those who stuck around and have now given us this chance.
“I’ve been around long enough to know that when things aren’t going well, you’ve just got to stick together. If you do that, it makes you stronger.
“This team has been together for two and a half to three months, so it’s been a case of rebuilding once again, but everyone has stepped up their game.”
Elsewhere, FC CLACTON boss Kieron Shelley has challenged his players to restore pride and provide some much-needed cheer in their final two fixtures.
Barring a reprieve, the club’s relegation from the premier division was confirmed on Bank Holiday Monday as they lost at home Wivenhoe.
They slipped back to the foot of the table after previous basement boys Swaffham Town beat Walsham-le-Willows.
Shelley admitted being “absolutely gutted” by Monday’s costly defeat but wants his players to provide some consolation by gleaning points from their final two matches – at home to Godmanchester Rovers tomorrow and then, ironically, away to Swaffham on April 29.
“Now it’s about going out and restoring pride and making sure we don’t finish bottom of the league,” he said.
“That would really upset me and I’d almost feel everything I’ve done here in the last five months has been for nothing.”
BRANTHAM ATHLETIC are away to Walsham-le-Willows tomorrow.
In division one, COGGESHALL TOWN host Needham Market Reserves, while HALSTEAD TOWN, HOLLAND FC and BRAINTREE TOWN RESERVES travel to Leiston Reserves, Team Bury and Woodbridge Town respectively.