Mark Morsley believes there is a new-found belief within Needham Market that the club can finally achieve their promotion dream this season.
Having suffered play-off heartache in three of the previous four seasons, the Marketmen are once again firmly in the Ryman League Division One North promotion chase, currently sitting in second place, three points adrift of table-topping Harlow Town but with two games in hand on their rivals.
And after seeing his side secure a fourth straight victory with a dramatic 94th-minute winner against rivals AFC Sudbury on New Year’s Day, Morsley is confident his side can not only gain promotion but clinch the title in the process, starting with a tantalising trip to third-placed Brentwood Town — who beat them in the play-offs in 2010/11 —tomorrow (3pm).
“We are all in the mind-set of believing we can win the league and there is a feel good spirit within this group of players,” he said. “Last season I felt we were way off, but this team has the right character and I have a warm feeling about what is happening this year.
“I have won this league once and got to the play-offs on three occasions and that feeling of doing something again is around with this group.
“All the games from now until the end of the season are massive and we need to win them all. We can’t afford to take any easily and there will definitely be no relaxing from my players.
“Brentwood is a very tough match on what will be a difficult pitch so we will have to be on form.”
The manager will once again be without injured centre-half Chris Hogg (knee) for tomorrow’s encounter, but he could be boosted by the returns of Keiran Morphew from injury, and striker Ryan Crisp, who is back from his loan spell at Dereham Town.
But while his defensive plans have been hampered again by the continued absence of Hogg, Morsley has been encouraged by the spirit shown by his squad to secure four consecutive clean sheets in recent weeks.
“That character of my squad is evident by the fact we’ve lost the league’s best defender in Chris Hogg, but managed to get four consecutive clean sheets,” he added. “That just shows the strength of this group and their ability to adapt when needed.
“I have to give huge credit to my players who have shown immense character and spirit to keep going.
“The whole squad share the same focus and they all know we can’t afford to lose any games.”
Meanwhile four first team players have agreed to extend their stays at Bloomfields with Morphew signing a three-year deal, while Darryl Coakley, Sam Nunn and Kemal Izett have all agreed to new two-year contracts.