A win and a defeat left Ilkeston FC fans with mixed emotions this week but boss Kevin Wilson remained positive as he assessed his side’s position.
The Robins remain second in the league, although that status is under threat given sides below them have games in hand.
But having seen his young charges beat Skelmersdale 2-0 on Saturday and then lose by the same score at Workington on Tuesday night, Wilson says there is still plenty to look forward to.
He said: “We’re still in a great position and as always I’m proud of this young group of players.
“We need two or three more wins to make sure of a play-off spot and that remains a remarkable situation to be in given the players we’ve lost over this season and the age of the squad.
“So we’ll go into the last five league games full of belief and will be determined to achieve our first aim which is to seal a play-off spot.”
Tuesday’s defeat at Workington came after Rob Duffy had missed a first-half penalty for Ilkeston, but in the end Wilson felt the best team had won.
He said: “It was a fair result. Obviously if the penalty goes in just before half-time it could be a different game but overall we didn’t do as well as we know we can and couldn’t get a foothold in the game.
“We looked a bit leggy and gave the ball away too much, but Workington played very well and deserved the win.”
And of the victory over Skelmersdale, Wilson added: “We’re still unbeaten at home since October but it was important to get a win given we’ve had quite a few draws there recently.
“The fact is that we’re still in there and with five games to go are in a great position to get a play-off spot. Even finishing fourth or fifth wouldn’t be a disaster given our away form is the best in the division so a play-off away from home wouldn’t worry us.”
The Robins brought in several new faces last Thursday on NPL transfer deadline day to help strengthen the squad.
Among them was striker Kane Richards who returned to Ilkeston on loan from Conference side Chester having already scored 12 goals for Ilkeston this season.
Former Robin Jack Watts signed on a dual registration with Staveley Welfare, goalkeeper Jack Wilson arrived on loan from Gateshead as cover for Jordan Smith, defender Ross Colquhoun has come on loan from Sunderland and Mitch Rose, brother Tottenham defender Danny, signed having been released by Rotherham.
Wilson said: “We’re at a key stage of the season and needed strengthening given injuries and suspension will kick in.
“The players we have already have done really well but freshening up is never a bad thing and the new players have come in and played well over the last couple of games.”
Ilkeston head to Frickley Athletic on Saturday before hosting relegated Belper Town on Easter Monday (both 3pm)
Wilson added: “Belper will be playing with a bit of freedom now their fate is sealed and won on Tuesday night so might fancy an upset.
“Frickley is always a tough place to go and given every game is tough in this division we can’t take anything for granted.
“But two wins could seal a play-off place depending on results elsewhere so we’ll have plenty of motivation to get the points.”