MICHAEL HERBERT says promotion is now the aim for Woodley United as they approach the season run-in.
The United boss has played down the chance of taking his side up to the Hellenic Premier Division for the majority of the campaign, but with nine games to play he feels it is now a realistic target.
Woodley sit fourth in Division One East but just goal difference separates them and the promotion places with games in hand on all the sides in the league, while a Berks and Bucks Intermediate Cup final also awaits in April.
And while the Kestrels were held to a 0-0 draw by 10-man Wokingham and Emmbrook on Saturday, Herbert has his eyes on the top two.
“The aim at the start of the season was to finish in the top five and hopefully have a cup run,” the Woodley manager told The Wokingham Paper.
“We’ve done the cup run part of it so hopefully now we can put a few wins together and consolidate in the top five.
“I think that should be something we’re able to do and hopefully we can finish in the top three. Second is the aim.
“Hopefully we can do that and that would be a great season for us obviously in our first season in charge. We’d be really happy with that.”
He added: “I think Penn and Tylers Green have won the league.
“They’re six points ahead even if we win our games in hand and with goal difference it’s probably seven points.
“We’re the only team to beat them this season so I can’t see them dropping more than seven points so for me they’ve won the league.
“Then it’s second place up for grabs now between us, Headington, Finchampstead and even Aldermaston and Bicester are still in there fighting.
“It should be a good end to the season, we’ve just got to concentrate on ourselves, take it one game at a time and start Saturday at Holyport.”
While Herbert is eyeing a move up the table, recent form is against Woodley with just one win from their last five games.
And that continued with a goalless draw against Sumas, despite an early Jacob Bailey red card. That makes it three games without victory for Woodley against Clive McNelly’s side this season, having lost the previous two.
“I think they’re going to be one of those bogey teams,” said Herbert of Sumas.
“I’d say in the three games against them there’s not been a lot between the two sides and obviously they’ve beaten us twice and we’ve got a draw from this one.
“Maybe a bit of a bogey team. It’s a local derby so they always seem to raise it against us which is a good rivalry and it’s a credit to them really. They hung in there and did what they had to do to get a draw.”
And the manager insists performances have been better than results suggest and is focussing on correcting that run with games against struggling Holyport and Wantage Town Reserves this week.
“In a positive spin, sometimes you may lose these games,” he said.
“We’ve actually been picking up points. Bicester away was a really good point for us and it’s funny that we’ve had games where we haven’t played so well and we’ve picked up the three points and the last two games we’ve actually played quite well and only picked up a point.
“We haven’t played either Holyport or Wantage yet this season so we’ve still got four games against them.
“But this league is so competitive that no matter who you play, you see Holyport take points off Sandhurst and it’s really competitive.
“You’ve got to make sure you take every game as it comes and just concentrate on that one.
“We went to watch Holyport on Tuesday night to see what they’re about and really plan for Saturday to see if we can get a result.”