I feel like the ultimate hypocrite.
A few weeks ago while penning an article for the Ilkeston FC supporters’ fanzine, I urged fans to put thoughts of promotion to one side. Yes, we had a good young team that was playing well, but let’s not raise our expectation levels too high.
Now, here I am with seemingly every waking moment, dreaming of April and what that month might bring.
I blame Kevin Wilson and the players, of course, for my heightened state of excitement.
Every time I think that things might start to go wrong – which has happened a lot recently with the procession of precocious talent departing the New Manor Ground for bigger things – the lads dispel my negativity by continuing their winning ways, adding to my not inconsiderable levels of stress. For this particular fan it’s the hope that kills.
Fifteen matches unbeaten since the departure of Che Adams to Sheffield United, we are now entering the crunch time of the season.
Make no mistake, there are some tough games on the horizon, but if we come through those relatively unscathed we really will be in with a fantastic chance of promotion.
However, it’s tight at the top, and a few slips would see us back in the large group of clubs aiming for the play-offs.
Even the games which on paper look like a sure-fire Robins win will become tough.
Mounting a challenge at the top brings with it new pressures and this is something that our youngsters will be facing for the first time.
Take the Whitby game at the weekend just gone, for example. A few weeks ago Ilson were probably off most clubs’ radar but now we are seen as the team to beat.
Whitby certainly thought that way and threw down the gauntlet by attacking us for almost the entire first-half.
The second-half was more even but I feared the worst when Whitby took the lead. Would the unbeaten run come to an end?
As it turned out the answer was no. One of the most impressive qualities of this team is that their undoubted skill is matched by their refusal to give up and accept defeat.
Rai Simons typified this when his sheer perseverance led to our deserved but slightly fortuitous equaliser.
We had to settle for a draw, a point gained under the circumstances.
Between now and the end of the season there will be plenty of other clubs – and not just those near the top – who will be out to make our life difficult and look to take points off us just as Whitby did.
Halesowen will be another this weekend. Settling for a draw looks quite attractive right now.