Happy manager Grant Black says his Belper Town team are “ahead of schedule” as their push for promotion enters 2020.
Before their big game against Ilkeston Town on New Year’s Day, Belper sat fourth in the South-East Division of the BetVictor Northern Premier League with games in hand on those above them.
So, no wonder Black was full of optimism as the Nailers prepared for the second half of the season.
“It’s in our hands if we want to go on and win the league,” he said. “There is a long way to go, and we have to keep our feet on the ground and keep working hard. But we can’t complain.
“We were quietly confident at the start of the season, but we are ahead of schedule now. The FA Cup run was massive for everyone, and we have carried that form into our league games. Confidence is high.”
That Cup run, which ended with a trip to famous former Football League club Notts County, was pinpointed by Black as the high spot of the campaign so far.
“I think it was the highlight of most of the lads’ careers,” he said. “To get a plum tie like that, take about 1,800 fans and receive all the publicity we had will take some beating. The only thing that will beat it is if we get promotion to the Premier Division.”
Belper also reaped the financial benefits from their FA Cup success. Although some of that money has had to be spent on new equipment after their Christchurch Meadow ground was hit by flooding last month, Black is hopeful that funds would be made available if he needs to strengthen his squad as the season progresses.
It is a source of great pride for him that the Nailers have done so well considering their playing budget is not one of the biggest in the division.
“It is definitely not in the top eight and probably not the top ten, “Black revealed. “But it is one we feel we can work with.
“The club have also spent a lot of money on the ground in the last few months, and it is already up to Conference North standard.”
The Ilkeston clash is being followed by an equally tough match away to seventh-placed Frickley Athletic on Saturday. Black added: “If we come out of those games with maximum points, we will be in a very strong position.”