DAVID Howell was today (Thursday) praying his players came though their two cup clashes within 24 hours ahead of Saturday's home league clash with Tooting & Mitcham United.
Last night, after the Observer went to press, Harrow played Fisher Athletic in the last eight of the London Senior Cup at Dulwich, just a day after entertaining Ashford Town (Middx) in Tuesday's League Cup semi final clash.
And Borough boss Howell, who was without eight key players for last Saturday's 1-0 win at Dartford, was hoping for a clean bill of health today so that his team can continue their steady rise from danger in the Ryman Premier.
Next Tuesday they face another tough league encounter at home to Sutton United and Howell is confident he has the strength and depth available to deal with such a gruelling fixture pile-up.
"The cup competitions can be distracting," he said. "Look at Hendon.
They are through to a final [Middlesex Senior Cup] on Easter Monday, which means they have to fit in their league fixture scheduled for that day some-where else. You can be successful but will get behind in the league fixtures.
"But I'd rather be playing these [cup] matches in two days than playing three league games on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday."
Howell was forced into at least three changes for last night's game with Blue Square South side Fisher, as Gary Noel, Tobi Jinadu and Dorian Smith were all cup tied.
However, all should come back into the reckoning for Saturday's game at Earlsmead.
"Tooting and Sutton will be two tough games, but it is down to us," he added. "I'm looking forward to having my injured players back, so I have plenty of decisions to make."
Dean Fenton should continue on the right wing after netting his first goal for the club during his loan spell from Staines Town.
Howell said: "Dean has taken a while to settle and that goal will go a long way
to helping him gain the confidence he needs."
Meanwhile, Andray Baptiste almost quit the club last week only for an inspired move by Howell to prompt him into a U-turn.
"I made Andray captain and he led by example," commented the Borough Boss. "He told me last week that he wanted to leave. Against Sutton [2-2 away] he went to the wrong ground, got there 20 minutes before the game and had a good first half, he then had a lot to do with the two goals we conceded and didn't feel like he was getting the respect he felt he deserved from the other senior players.
"There was a lot of unrest and negativity around and he thought I was maybe taking up sides with other people.
"He had a bad day at the office and was reading too much into things.
"But he responded really well on Saturday and got the respect from the play-ers that he so badly wanted.
"He had been disillusioned, but he came to see me last Thursday and said he was happy to stay on."
UP NEXT: Tooting & Mitcham
[25a0] Where? Earlsmead, Saturday, 3pm [25a0] Manager: Billy Smith [25a0] League record to date: P34 W12 D6 L16 [25a0] Last five (most recent first): W, D, L, D, W [25a0] Last five away: L, D, D, L, W [25a0] Top scorer: Paul Vines (11) [25a0] Current league position: 13th [25a0] Last season: 2nd (promoted from Ryman League Div 1 North) [25a0] 2007/08 season: N/A