Kimberley MW boss Ian Deakin says he’s more than happy to talk about a challenge for the EMCL title - and would love to see his players go all the way.
The Stags are sixth in the table, seven points behind current leaders West Bridgford and with a game in hand.
They have the best home form in the division and look set to achieve the much-coveted top eight place that would earn them FA Cup qualification, but rather than avoiding the ‘t word’, Deakin is embracing the opportunity Kimberley have to challenge.
He said: “I’ve always been a winner and I don’t want the lads to be nearly men. If they want to win it then they’ve got to give it everything, but if they don’t win it yet have given me 100 per cent in trying to do so then I’ll be happy.
“But there is a long way to go and there are plenty of teams up there challenging so we’ve just got to take things one step at a time and keep chalking the games off.”
Kimberley have won their last six games in all competitions, with Deakin citing a settled and strong squad, as well as a very fit one, as being the key reasons for their recent success.
He said: “We’ve got real strength in depth now which we didn’t have at the start so that’s been key. If players are missing for whatever reason then we’re able to bring in like for like players rather than the overall quality of the side being reduced.
“They’re also very fit, something I’ve been keen to enforce. I work them hard in training and it’s an area I’ve no concerns over as we enter the final stages.
“The players have been fantastic and so have all the coaching staff here supporting me. Martin Lench has taken more of a playing role now but still helps me a lot and there’s a really strong team spirit too which reminds me of the successful days at Eastwood.”
Next up for Kimberley is a home game with Barrow Town on Saturday before a Notts Senior Cup quarter-final at Basford United next Monday.
Deakin sees that tie as being a useful yardstick as to where the Stags are currently at, with the Evo-Stik Division One South side playing two levels higher.
He said: “We’re real underdogs but have played well against sides from higher up the pyramid before this season so we’ll go there and give it a good go.
“It’s a competition I’ve enjoyed good success in as a player so it would be great to do similar as a manager.”
Looking ahead to the future, Deakin is confident Kimberley are in good shape, whether or not he remains at the helm.
He added: “I committed to a season here and I’ll honour that. Once I’m fit to play again I’ll see what happens, but I certainly won’t rule out staying here.
“I gather that the club is able to gain promotion if we do win the league so there’s a great opportunity there, but whatever happens I’m really keen to lay strong foundations of professionalism that both the club and the players can take forward.”