Leiston boss believes Blues may have missed boat in Ryman Premier play-off chase
- Credit: Su Anderson
Leiston boss Richard Wilkins admits the Blues’ play-off chances are all but over, but has called on his players to play for pride and league positions in their remaining four Ryman Premier games.
The Victory Road side are on course for their best-ever season by surpassing the 67-point mark they have achieved in each of the last two seasons.
Currently sat on that total, they are, however, eighth in the table with just four games left and four points adrift of Dulwich Hamlet, who occupy the final play-off spot with a game in hand.
Crucially though, Kingstonian, who sit a place above the Blues, have three games in hand on the men from Suffolk and with Leiston still having to play top-five teams, Dulwich and Bognor Regis, the odds look stacked against them.
Today, the Blues, who have a Suffolk Premier Cup final against Lowestoft Town to look forward to, are on the road at 16th-placed Staines.
Leiston won the corresponding fixture 3-1 in January,.
“You are always in with a chance when it’s still mathematically possible, but I felt sorry for the lads over the Easter holidays,” explained Wilkins.
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“We got two draws at Burgess Hill and at home to Billericay and I thought we should have won both games.
“We had all the chances against Billericay, while we dominated at Burgess Hill in difficult conditions.
“We could have been in the mix and I can’t blame the lads as they gave a good account of themselves, but I think personally, we have probably just missed the boat in terms of the play-offs.”
Billy Clark scored in the draw at Burgess Hill, while Joe Jefford was on target against Billericay. Both players are likely to be involved again today, in a squad that has a clear message to heed from their manager.
“I have had a chat with the players and we will not be thinking about beaches and summer holidays,” added Wilkins.
“Our aim is to try and pick up as many points as possible and, with Dulwich and Bognor still to play, and tough games against Staines and Met Police, it promises to be an exciting end to the season.
“It would be great to finish in the mid-seventies points-wise and it’s important, as a squad, to finish on a good note.
“Getting 72 or 73 points may have been good enough to reach the play-offs in the past, but it may not be enough this season, but there is pride to play for and I would rather finish sixth than eighth.”
Leiston go into the game with just one defeat in their last seven games, but a couple of sticky patches have cost them dear this season.
“We had a difficult patch at the back end of November and into December when we didn’t win in five, then we lost five from seven in February.
“We have made strides in certain areas but I have also been a bit frustrated with some of our offensive attributes.
“Our decision-making has not been as good as it could have been.”
Despite being on the verge of recording their best-ever season, Wilkins knows that work will need to be done in the close season.
“There will be areas that need to be improved upon and there will be probably three or four players coming in and three or four going out,” admitted Wilkins.
“There are still a few players in the team that are frustrating as they are good enough but they lack consistency.”