St Albans City boss David Howell admits his side are “in a good place” as they step up their bid for a Southern Premier play-off place.
The Saints extended their unbeaten run to seven games after a 2-0 win over Bashley at Clarence Park. The hosts had to be patient against their defensive opponents but goals from Sakho Bakare and Simon Martin in the last 17 minutes kept them in contention for a top-five finish.
Howell said: “I just think the lads are in a good place at the moment and we’ve got to keep trying to do our job. Hopefully if we keep doing our job we’ll be in a position do something about it. We’re not in that position yet but we’ve got to keep winning our matches to get ourselves into that spot.
“I think we’re in a good place. I look round the changing room and I feel whenever we go out there and whoever we’re playing I’ve got nothing to fear and nothing to worry about. That’s a good feeling for a manager.”
The former Harrow Borough boss was pleased with the patience shown by his side and felt their second-half performance was the best in their recent unbeaten run.
Howell said: “It was a good performance. I thought we started off a little bit slow in the first five or ten minutes. We took a while to get going but once we did I thought we took control of the game.
“At half-time at 0-0 we had territorial advantage and more possession but there were bright moments for us attacking wise. I thought Howard [Newton] looked bright and Danny [Hart] put in a couple of decent balls, but it was a difficult game because they always had that threat where they were going to pick up balls in midfield. David [Ijaha] and Micah Hyde did very well bearing in mind they were outnumbered in midfield.
“The disappointing thing for me was the final third in the first half. I was disappointed with the movement and partnership of Sakho and Simon. I thought the rest of the side did well and we were patient in the second half and didn’t panic. I was more satisfied with the second half and felt it was the best 45 minutes we’ve played in this good spell we’ve had.
“I thought we were very comfortable on the ball and very patient. We got the second one which was a deserved goal for Simon because I felt he worked very hard.
“But the disappointing thing for me was I felt Sakho only decided to come to the party and look bright when we got to that point. Sakho needs to share the workload with Simon and that’s not his strength.
“It’s difficult for Simon because he has to communicate and he doesn’t speak very good French while Sakho doesn’t speak very good English. It’s something we’re working at.”
The Saints boss introduced new signings James Comley and Belal Aite-Ouakrim from off the bench during Saturday’s win. Former Crystal Palace midfielder Comley has arrived from Canvey Island until the end of the season while striker Aite-Ouakrim joins on dual registration with Hendon.
Howell added: “I gave a chance to the two new signings. I thought James came on in midfield and looked comfortable on the ball. I’ve got to bear in mind I need cover for David who’s been troubled by injury. He looked comfortable in there. The other fella I just gave ten minutes to, because Simon came off late on, and it gave him a chance to come on. “We’ve looked a little thin in places just lately due to the season taking its toll on the squad with injuries. These two lads will give us a bit of fresh impetus and competition for places at the right time.
“If Paul Furlong was fit I might not have needed to get another player. If Chris Seeby [fractured cheekbone] was still here I might not have needed to bring in others. I’ve got to make sure we cover for every eventual possibility between now and the end of the season.
“I don’t want to be in a position where we’re left short anywhere on the park. It’s my job now to manage these players and keep them motivated and make them feel like they’re all contributing. They’re all a good bunch of lads and we’ve got to the point now where this is the best and most honest bunch of lads we’ve had all season.”
A Saints XI defeated HMS St Albans 6-1 in a charity match raising money for the Grove House Hospice and Help for Heroes on Monday night.
Howell and assistant manager Ken Charlery were given a run out in the second half with the latter getting on the scoresheet.
The other City goals came from Jamal Park-Jude, James Shaw, James Bent, Bakare and Ryan Ware. But the biggest cheer of the night went to Rob Jones after he netted a consolation for HMS St Albans.