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Magpies told to punish rivals' slip-ups in play-off push
STUART Heath says the Magpies must take advantage of any slip-ups from the teams above them if they are to stand a chance of sneaking a play-off place.
The assistant-manager knows that at this time of the season pressure can play a big part in matches involving sides at both ends of the table.
But while the county town outfit will look to make the most of their rivals’ mistakes, Heath also knows they must be aware of potential banana skins themselves.
In AFC Hornchurch, the Magpies host a side tomorrow (3pm) fresh from a superb 4-1 win at Chelmsford on Wednesday night – a result that took Heath by surprise.
“Earlier in the season you’d have put that down as a home banker,” he told Echosport. “But when you get teams at the bottom fighting for their lives you can get some unpredictable scores.
“As has been shown over the last few games, when the pressure starts to build you can get some funny results.
“And if that means some of the teams above us are on the wrong end of those results then we’ve got to be ready to take advantage.
“If we can keep the pressure on the team in fifth then the play-offs come into the equation.
“We have got a few home fixtures left which are going to be crucial if we want to get anywhere near the play-offs.
“I think we’d have to win the majority, if not all of them, and pick up some points away from home.
“If we do that then you never know where we might finish. We need to produce the performances and the table will take care of itself.
“At the start of every season you always set out to improve on the previous one.
“If we could finish one place higher than we did last season anything else would be a bonus.”
Tomorrow’s visitors got the better of the Magpies earlier in the season and come into this fixture unbeaten in their last four Blue Square Bet South outings.
Heath continued: “Hornchurch have been playing well and got the results their performances have deserved.
“They’ve strengthened their squad in the last few months and pulled away from the relegation zone so they will have confidence coming to us.
“They deservedly beat us at their place so we’ll try and avenge that defeat.
“Our players have been fantastic in this backlog of fixtures and real credit has to go to them for their attitude and focus and they’ve got to keep it going now.”
Ben Watson should be fit to lead the line though there is a major doubt over Kieffer Moore (thigh).
Dorchester have only lost twice in 10 league games and although their injury problems have eased recently, suspensions will soon take effect.
“We’ve had a few injuries but the main problem next will be suspensions,” added Heath.
“We’ve got to deal with that and it’s going to be hard but gives opportunities to other players like Harry Bell, Calvin Brooks and Steve Walker.
“It’s happened a few times before and more often than not the players that have come in have taken those chances so we’re hoping they can do it again.”
Magpies (from): Matthews, Jermyn, Bell, Smeeton, Pugh, N Walker, Gleeson, Nicholls, Morgan, Crittenden, Martin, Malsom, Watson, Tennant, Brooks, S Walker, Floyd
* Entry for children tomorrow is free if they attend the match with a paying adult.