LITTLE Oakley manager Sean Tynan says his players are more determined than ever to “finish the job” and bring championship silverware back to the Memorial Ground.
The Acorns suffered only their second defeat of the Essex and Suffolk League season last Saturday, losing 4-2 at Gas Recreation.
It means their lead at the premier division summit has been trimmed to two points, with just a handful of matches remaining.
Now they are preparing for another big away game tomorrow, against third-placed title rivals Alresford Colne Rangers.
And Tynan expects his players to bounce back from their setback and take another step towards getting over the line.
“We want to finish the job and want to win the league,” said the Oakley boss.
“I’m not going to make any secret of that.
“While last week was disappointing, we’ve only lost two league games all season and that’s down to the players. It feels great to be top and I can’t speak highly enough of the boys, because they’ve been fantastic.
“Now we have to make sure we finish top and the boys are up for that challenge.
“Hopefully they can get us over the line and all our remaining games are cup finals. They’re massive matches.
“Hopefully they won’t let me or themselves down in the last few weeks.
“We’ve played in big games before.
“We’ve played in cup finals, but this feels a bit different because it’s a long-term thing.
“You’re going to have ups and downs and we did have a blip, where we were winning games but not playing very well.
“We had a talk and got a few things out in the open three weeks ago and we’ve come out the other side of that.
“I’ve told the players not to leave anything in the changing room and play with passion and pride and for the Oakley shirt.”
Oakley, who have this week completed the signing of Brantham Athletic striker Harry Parkes, are mathematically guaranteed a top-five finish, which is an essential part of the criteria for gaining promotion to the Thurlow Nunn League.
The club have applied to go up and already passed their provisional ground grading.
The final inspection will take place sometime between now and March 31.
Sean Mathurin and Jordan Heath scored the goals in last week’s defeat.
Meanwhile, Oakley’s under-13 Blues lost 3-2 at home to Stanway Villa Greens.
In wet, windy conditons, Charlie Wotton put the Acorns 2-0 up.
Goalkeeper Morgan Campbell pulled off a penalty save but the visitors scored from the follow-up.
Stanway then scored twice more in a ten-minute spell to confirm they will finish the season as champions.
HARWICH AND PARKESTON return to action tomorrow, having been without a fixture last Saturday.
Glenn Eldridge’s sixth-placed side, who have won their last four and six of their last seven, are at home to White Notley.
It’s been quite a week for BRANTHAM ATHLETIC.
There was a milestone victory on Saturday as joint-bosses Matt Carmichael and Michael Brothers celebrated their first victory in charge of the Imps.
They won 2-0 at home to Godmanchester Rovers, in a Thurlow Nunn League premier division match that kicked-off at the earlier time of 2pm, thanks to goals either side of the interval from Sean Bartlett and Sean Gunn.
The latter netted from the penalty spot to secure Brantham’s first victory since December 3.
There was then more joy for the Imps on Tuesday night as they won 3-0 at Gorleston.
Brothers, Gunn and an own goal saw them to a comfortable victory at Emerald Park.
Brantham have no game tomorrow but visit Thetford Town on Tuesday (kick-off 7.45pm).