ILKESTON FC manager Kevin Wilson says he has great faith in his talented young squad as they prepare for a crucial week to round off the season.
The Robins head to champions Grantham Town on Saturday where a point will be enough to secure second place and therefore a home play-off final should they be successful in the semi-final on Monday night.
But with third-placed Carlton Town breathing down Ilkeston’s necks and ready to take second spot on goal difference should they beat Goole AFC and the Robins lose, Wilson must make some key decisions on who to risk and who to leave out for Saturday’s game.
He said: “It’s a dilemma because obviously there’s only a four goal swing required for Carlton to overtake us if we lose, but at the same time we’ve got to look at the bigger picture and be ready for what Monday night will throw at us.
“I’m helped by the fact that the squad is talented enough for me to believe that whoever plays is good enough to do the job asked of them. I have confidence in all of them.
“We’ve had a few big players who’ve missed out in recent weeks and had to be on the bench so we know there’s enough quality to call on.
“In terms of Saturday, we’ll see how the afternoon goes. Maybe Grantham won’t be at full speed given they’ve already won the league but they also might want to finish on a high in front of their own fans so we have to be ready.”
Monday’s visitors to the New Manor Ground for the semi-final remain unknown, with Belper Town, Sheffield FC and Leek Town still battling it out for the two remaining places in the top five.
If things stay as they are then Sheffield will be the opponents, but Wilson is adamant his side is capable of beating whoever they end up playing, and having twice endured play-off heartbreak as a coach before, he is hoping this will be third time lucky.
He said: “We’ve lost twice to Belper and once to Leek this season but all of those defeats were very much of our own making.
“We’ve beaten Sheffield twice so psychologically that might be a factor, but quite simply these games are a lottery and it’s all about who performs on the night.
“We’ll work on a few things in training, including practising penalties, in order to be as prepared as possible.
“I was manager at Kettering when we lost to Altrincham in the Conference play-offs and was assistant at Northampton when we were beaten by Grimsby at Wembley, so I think I’m due some play-off joy!”
The Robins’ final home game in the regular season was a 2-0 victory over Brigg Town last Saturday.
And while Wilson was happy to take the three points, he was disappointed his side couldn’t improve on their goal difference against a side in the lower echelons of the table.
He said: “It was a bit of a flat performance as we didn’t really step up and create as many chances as we should have.
“In the last couple of games there may have been an element of the players having an eye on what’s coming up, but to be fair we’re not conceding many goals and are winning games so I can’t be too unhappy. It just would have been nice for Saturday’s win to have been more comfortable given the goal difference situation.”