Horsham manager Di Paola has spoken about the Bostik League play-off race for the first time

Faversham Town v Horsham - Rob O'Toole is mobbed after giving the visitors the lead. Picture by John Lines
Faversham Town v Horsham - Rob O'Toole is mobbed after giving the visitors the lead. Picture by John Lines

Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola has stopped short of admitting they are shooting for the play-offs this season – but hinted they will address the situation at the end of a ‘key’ month.

The Hornets sit fourth in the Bostik League South East Division and are very much in the frame for the promotion shoot-out places.

Come mid-April, maybe things will be different, but a lot of teams will be thinking the same thing.

Dominic Di Paola

While it wasn’t the aim this year, come January the Hornets have found themselves mixing it at the right end of the table.

That is mainly thanks to a great spell before Christmas which saw them go on a eight-game league unbeaten run, notching seven wins, before going on to hand leaders Cray Wanderers their first defeat of the season.

With the team Di Paola has put together, on paper, it makes sense. A wealth of proven experience at this level had people taking note of Horsham in pre-season.

The club and manager publicly did not given any real aims this season, other than ‘improvement’ and ‘consistency’.

You couldn’t blame them.

With their new ground on the horizon, the focus off the pitch has been on getting Hop Oast ready for a homecoming.

But on the pitch, the side have quietly been going about their business and propelled themselves into real play-off contenders.

Speaking on the subject for the first time, a coy Di Paola said: “Saturday’s win keeps us in the mix. At the moment, it looks like seven or eight teams will be going for those play-off places. Looking at the table, it is so tight, there is not a lot of room for error.

“We just want to do as well as we can at the moment. It looks like the top eight will be fighting – not first, first has gone, but then there are seven or eight teams going for it.

“Things are a lot tighter this season as there are not as many games, teams cannot pull away. With 46 games in previous years, big gaps appear, but even Cray, who have been brilliant, can’t seem to pull fully away.

“There is genuinely no pressure, the club haven’t been on us about it. I am not even sure we are prepared to go up. All I want us to do it keep plugging away.

“Come mid-April, maybe things will be different, but a lot of teams will be thinking the same thing.”

Di Paola believes Saturday’s opponents Whyteleafe plus Hastings, VCD Athletic, Hythe and Phoenix Sports are all big play-off contenders.

He added: “We have not really talked about it with the players. We have said, ‘if you want success this season, then you have to do this and that’.

“We will see how we get on at the end of the month. It’s a key month for us, playing a lot of the top sides. We want to prolong the season as much as possible and see where it takes us.

“I’m enjoying it, really enjoying it and hopefully that can continue into the second half of the season. No matter what happens, we are in good shape going forward.”