01:00PM, Friday 19 November 2021
Jon Underwood believes Slough Town's players have earned their recent victories over Maidstone United and Dorking Wanderers through their hard work, desire and determination.
The Rebels are in the process of transforming their entire campaign after winning four of their last five league matches following a run of seven games without a win before that.
It's lifted them from the lower reaches of the National League South to within touching distance of the play-off, but they don't want their fine run of form to end here, with winnable matches - on paper at least - to come against Eastbourne Borough, Tonbridge Angels and Hemel Hempstead Town.
No one, not even Jon Underwood and Neil Baker, expected the side to beat Maidstone and Dorking in successive matches, but they came out on the right side of two tight matches and are now getting the rub of the green which so often went against them in the early stages of the campaign.
On Saturday they took time to settle, but goals from Aaron Kuhl and Freddie Grant - his fourth of the season - gave them a 2-0 half-time lead and they held on for victory despite some late flutters when Alfie Rutherford found the net for the visitors.
Their run of form has rocketed the Rebels up the table to within three points of the play-offs and Underwood says it's been built on a foundation of hard work first and foremost.
“The lads are working incredibly hard at the moment,” he said. “When you play teams like Dorking and Maidstone, you can't beat them unless everyone is fully at it.
“We can’t carry anyone, but they’re giving us everything at the moment.
“They're really good sides and you don't have things all your own way in these matches, but a few things have gone our way when a month ago maybe they weren't going our way.
“This league is so tight, and every game is tight. You can have a little spell where things don't go for you, and you can easily go four or five games when you don't win. But if you're a good side, and we believe we are a good side, you can also have a spell like the one we're on.
“At the moment things are going for us, and I think we're deserving of these wins, but the games have been very tight and there have been moments when things could have gone the other way. But we're really pleased. The lads are playing ever so well, and we've found a shape and way of playing that suits us. We've got quite a settled team and hopefully it will continue that way.”
There's nothing particularly flashy about the Rebels this season, although they're more than capable of playing good football. Underwood admits they're not likely to dominate matches and score a hat-full of goals like some of the squads they’ve managed in the past. This team is set up to be tough to beat and, just recently at least, they've been a very tough nut to crack indeed.
Underwood and Baker will be hoping that continues to be the case when they visit Eastbourne on Saturday.
“Eastbourne are probably where we were just a few weeks ago,” said Underwood.
“They’ve had some injuries but have one or two coming back now. They're close to us in the table but have not been on a great run recently.
“It’s not an easy place to go but we’ve got a good record there and have had some good wins there recently.
“They’ve got some attacking threat, but, like I said earlier, every game will be tight. When you get six points out of Maidstone and Dorking, which nobody expected us to get, not even ourselves to be fair. And then you look at our next three, Eastbourne, Tonbridge and Hemel and everyone is expecting us to get nine points.
“Well, it’s not as easy as that. I’m expecting another tight game that will probably be settled by the odd goal.
He added: “We’re hard to break down, we’re very solid. We’re not a team that’s going to go and score four or five goals each week. That’s not going to be us this year. If you look at our wins, they’ve been tight games, 1-0s and 2-1s.”