Dave Cooke has said in no uncertain terms that his side will not get carried away after a strong showing at the weekend away at South Shields.
The Dabbers won 4-1 at Mariners Park against the league leaders thanks to goals from Caspar Hughes, Sean Cooke, Ricardo Fuller and Luke Walsh as the victory sees the Dabbers six points off the top with games in hand on the teams around them.
“When you go to a team who are top of the league like South Shields, with them obviously being title favourites and rightly so with such a fantastic fan-base and crowd, you know it’s going to be a tough game.
“Our two games last season, the 4-0 away where they put us to bed in the second-half, and the home game where there was nothing in it, proved to us how good they were and they finished in the play-offs.
“We knew they were going to be up there again, and when I say we went up there with a game-plan, it’s the beauty of this squad because this group of lads can adapt to one or two systems.
“They’ve proved that versatility today as they have done throughout the season.
“It wasn’t a 4-1 game at all; we grabbed two right at the end, but we scored at the right times today – what a goal from Caspar [Hughes] by the way – but everything worked in our favour today.”
The manager believes that the squad that beat South Shields at the weekend has evolved from last season’s side that fell to a 4-0 defeat at Mariners Park eighteen months ago.
“When you put a squad together, every time someone goes out, you have to try and get a stronger piece in the jigsaw.
“I think we’ve done that this time, and look, we know that on any given day we can match anybody.
“We cannot get carried away by this result, because we’re still six points behind South Shields and there’s a lot to do.
“We have to take one game at a time, but that was a game we prepared for this week, and look, we’ve gone into their backyard, played some solid stuff and come out winners.”
Though he reinforces the belief of taking each game as it comes, Dave does know that reaching the play-off places this season is a minimum for the Dabbers.
“We have to take it one game at a time. In football, and I’ve seen it all before, if we get beat next week and they (South Shields) win, this result means nothing.
“We have to enjoy today and enjoy the performance but from Tuesday we prepare ourselves for Basford next week, who are a really good side.
“If we can come out of this month in touch then we can consider ourselves in a good position for the play-offs, which is a minimum for this squad of players as I’ve said all along.”
The Dabbers made three substitutions on Saturday who all had an impact on the second half and the manager believes all three players were assets from the bench.
“Joe Malkin has missed a lot of football due to injury, suspension and illness, but he played on Tuesday and scored two goals.
“He’s not there yet, no player can have that time off and be where he was before. Joe was always going to be an asset off the bench, with all his energy and endeavour.
“It was nice to have some fresh legs off the bench after sixty-five-odd minutes, after Ethon ran his heart out for the cause.
“Sean [Cooke]’s shoulder is still a bit tight so after he scored and had been booked we brought Luke [Walsh] on. We know the quality Luke has got, but again, he’s been out injured so fifteen-twenty minutes is probably his maximum at the moment.
“He slotted in there, Ricardo [Fuller] then came on with all his experience after Joe Mwasile had run himself into the ground.
“Joe Malkin went on left and Ricardo through the middle, and with all his experience, he creates himself a brilliant chance and there was never going to be any question about the finish, that was 3-1 and then obviously Walshy got himself on the scoresheet with a beautiful chip at the end.”
And now, as the Dabbers turn their attention towards this Saturday’s home game with Basford United, the manager has urged his side not to get carried away.
“Nobody can get carried away by reading things, thinking they’re better than what they are.
“We prepare now for Basford, I went to watch them the other week and they are a very good footballing side.
“It will be another tough game but we look forward to it.”
The Dabbers host Basford United this weekend as the push for the play-offs continues. Admission is priced at £11 for adults, £8 for concessions and £3 for U16s (who are free when accompanied by a full-paying adult).