Saints’ captain focussed on play-offs

Ben Martin under pressure is unable to guide the ball toward goal. Picture: Leigh Page

Ben Martin under pressure is unable to guide the ball toward goal. Picture: Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

Ben Martin already has one eye on the play-offs despite St Albans City still needing eight points to mathematically cement their place in the top five.

The Saints welcome Burnham to Clarence Park on Saturday (3pm kick-off) as they enter the final six games of the season. Even with potential hurdles against Hemel Hempstead and Poole Town in their way, Martin believes City are too good not to be in the play-offs.

“People will tell you it’s all about the next game but we are thinking about the play-offs and what we need to do to get there,” said City’s captain.

“There are games we target three points, such as Burnham, Banbury, Biggleswade and Frome, so anything at Hemel and Poole will be a bonus. It will also be a good marker to see where we are going into the play-offs.”

He added: “The play-offs are definitely on our minds because we have players who have won play-off finals. Hopefully their experience can get us through if we get there.”

If City are to avoid an early exit in the play-offs then they will have to recapture the form that saw them go on a 10-game unbeaten run in the league at the end of 2013. The 2-1 win at Bashley on Saturday was the first step in that process (full report and reaction online).

“It was a potential banana skin because we’re trying to cement our place in the play-offs and they’re already relegated. We made a bad start on a tricky pitch and in difficult conditions but we showed character to come back and win,” Martin told the Herts Ad.

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“I thought we played better football and we could have won by more. We need to believe in ourselves; we’re getting closer to where we want to be but there’s room from improvement.”

City’s drop in form has been attributed to a fall in confidence, an assessment Martin agreed with but he hastily added that the team will bounce back if they continue to win games.

“Winning is the best way to build confidence,” he said.

“We’re low on confidence at the moment but I don’t know why; we’ve won three of the last four games so there’s no reason why we should be.

“Winning is all that matters but hopefully we can pick up our form and take it into the play-offs.”

The next step in the process comes on Saturday against Burnham. City had to overturn a two-goal deficit to win the reverse fixture so they won’t underestimate The Blues, insisted Martin.

“We can’t take them lightly; everyone can beat everyone in this league.

“As long as we focus on getting three points then we should win. We came back from 2-0 down to beat them at their place so we known we’re good enough to win. It’s important that we put in the performance that we know we can.”

Joint managers James Gray and Graham Golds have been proactive in their attempts to get City firing on all cylinders by signing Steve Wales and Warren Whitely, who both enjoyed impressive debuts on Saturday.