Horsham YMCA manager Peter Buckland will not be giving up on their Ryman League promotion dream until it is mathematically impossible.
The Gorings Mead side sit fifth in the Southern Combination League Premier Division, six points off leaders Eastbourne Town.
The leaders have two games in hand, but Buckland has predicted that it will be a shoot-out for promotion between themselves, Town and landlords Horsham come May.
Local spice sees third placed Horsham hotly fancied and Eastbourne Town looking another extremely strong outfit in what is a hugely competitive division to get out of, with only one promotion place up for grabs.
Buckland, who is in his third full season at YM, still expects plenty of twists and turns in the race as his side looks to clinch a place back in the Ryman League South Division for the first time since their relegation in 2011.
He said: “At the moment the points total, I think, is a little bit better off than the total we had last season at this time.
“I do not think I am speaking out of turn and not flattering ourselves by saying, I still think it will be between Horsham, Horsham YMCA and Eastbourne Town.
“I think on current form and statistics it will be Eastbourne Town, Horsham, then us, which would not be enough to get us promoted as both have applied (for promotion) and Eastbourne have good enough facilities, while I am not 100 per cent sure of the situation with Horsham.
“Even if we do not get promoted and finish third it’s still an improvement on last year. If we do that, and the others go up then it opens the door for us. Horsham are a big club and the Ryman League needs clubs like that, it’s where they deserve to be, but I also think it needs clubs like YM.”
YM’s pride took a dent in their recent derby defeat to their tenants, but Buckland - who was serving the third and final game of a stadium ban -said: “Personally, I could not care less about the landlords or tenants or local derby bit, for me it was just a game of football and three points.
“It was the same as playing St Francis Rangers and although we lost a battle, we have not lost the war - there will be lots of hiccups to come for sides in the league yet.
“Until it is mathematically impossible, you will not see us throw in the towel and I am looking to strengthen the squad at the moment.”
YM do have somewhat of a centre-back crisis with Alex Gathern out long-term after requiring stitches to an ankle injury, Mark Zydonik the same with knee ligament problems and Matt Crane’s availability limited through work commitments.
Dean Carden starts a two-game ban, Dean Wright is out injured and Sam Schaaf is missing for three weeks due to a skiing holiday.
Horsham YMCA travel to lowly East Preston on Saturday and Buckland added: “I am desperate for three points. But it hasn’t been the best of grounds down there for us, we will be well prepared and going for it though.”
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