EASTWOOD Town boss John Ramshaw urged the young players at his disposal to earn the right to stay at the club as he plans ahead for next season.
The Badgers’ relegation could be confirmed this weekend if they lose at Gainsborough Trinity and other results go against them.
But while Evo-Stik Premier Division football is now almost a certainty next season, Ramshaw wants his players to go down in a dignified manner despite resources being stretched, and was enthused by the fight put up by his young squad in the 1-0 defeat to Harrogate Town last weekend.
He said: “Against Harrogate we had only two players over the age of 21, Gavin Caines and Richard Cooper, who hasn’t played regularly for over two years.
“At one point ourselves and Harrogate made substitutions at the same time - they brought on an experienced striker with over 400 games behind him and we brought on a kid who is in Year 11 at school in Josh Raven. That goes to show what we’re up against at the moment.
“But I thought the young lads did magnificently well in terms of their fight and organisation.
“We didn’t have a good threat in front of goal and certainly didn’t do enough to win the game, but I thought a 0-0 draw would have been fair which is why I was so disappointed with the late winner - especially as I thought there was a strong suspicion of offside about it.
“But we want to go down with dignity, not by losing heavily each week. We have to do our best and Saturday was encouraging.”
The Badgers travel to Gainsborough on Saturday to face a side in the play-off places and who romped to a 6-1 win at Coronation Park earlier in the season.
And while Ramshaw is aware it will be a tough test for his young side, he feels it will be good experience and a chance to stake a claim for a regular spot.
He said: “Trinity boss Steve Housham was a good player and has proved to be a very astute manager, doing very well to get them to where they are.
“But I think, for us, there have been two silver linings to the clouds of this season.
“One is that the club has been saved from extinction by the hard work of Steve Lynch, and the other is that we have been forced to blood some very young players who have therefore been given an opportunity to show they can perform at a high level.
“So while Saturday will be a huge and difficult test, it’s one I hope the youngsters will come through with distinction whatever the result, as we’re trying to look to next season and these guys can force themselves into my plans.
“One or two of the players have surprised me with their positive response to our situation and that’s good to see, whereas there are some who have thrown in the towel already.
“We’ve got seven league games to play whether we like it or not and need to put on as much of a show as possible, particularly with the Notts Senior Cup also up for grabs.”