Kimberley Miners Welfare joint-manager Luke Humphries says a top six finish in the East Midlands Counties League remains a high priority as the club recovers from a major injury crisis.
The casualty list ran into double figures during December but with players gradually filtering back into the team, the Miners are aiming to get more wins on the board as they lie nine points behind sixth-placed Eastwood with a game in hand.
Having won 1-0 at Rainworth Miners Welfare on Saturday thanks to Adam Morley’s second-half strike and with bottom-of-the-table Arnold Town visiting the Stag Ground on Saturday, Humphries is now hoping the Miners will go on a strong run of form.
He said: “We’ve challenged the lads to get back into those top places which with the squad we have, I believe we can do.
“On our day we can beat anyone. We were on top and drawing 2-2 at leaders Selston before the rain called that game off at half-time, and we were beating Heanor 4-2 before that one was also abandoned.
“Add to that the good displays to draw with Clifton last week and beat Rainworth last weekend, the signs are good.”
Humphries says the main area of concern for himself and fellow boss Marko Markelic has been in defence.
Kimberley have conceded as many goals as they’ve scored in the league so far this season - 35 - and Humphries knows that has to change.
He said: “We can’t keep relying on the strikers to score three, four or five goals each week.
“Last season we had one of the best defensive records in the division but this time we are conceding too many and we can’t let that happen if we are to get where we want to be.
“It’s been hard with the injuries of course but often it’s simple errors which cost us.”
With Kimberley not operating with anything in the way of a playing budget, Humphries believes that finishing in the top six and therefore achieving qualification for the FA Cup is a crucial factor for the club.
He said: “The finances generated by runs in the FA Cup and the FA Vase are so important for the day to day running, even if not for wages and so on.
“It’s about getting the pitch ready in the summer and all other costs that run up during the campaign, so the cup runs are vital.
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“So that’s why we are really keen to get into the top six because the long-term implications are there to be benefited from.”
Humphries added that working with Markelic has been a good experience for him so far.
He said: “Marko and I have known each other for a while and whereas I’m Nottingham-based, he’s in Derby so our knowledge of players across the area is good and our ideas as a whole complement each other really well.
“It took a few weeks to work so well but once we’d gelled as a management team things have gone very well and we speak most days.
“We both want the same thing and with the players we have at our disposal we firmly believe we can achieve it.”