WEALDSTONE must enjoy a productive February if they are to entertain the prospect of securing a play-off spot, manager Gordon Bartlett has warned.
His side rose to seventh in the Ryman Premier table following Saturday's 3-2 win at Tooting and Mitcham United, where they twice came from behind to secure a crucial three points.
Now Bartlett is seeking a decent points haul this month, which sees his side take in five scheduled league games, with three of them at home.
On Saturday Stones are set to host AFC Hornchurch before Harlow Town visit Grosvenor Vale on February 14.
Bartlett takes his side to mid-table Boreham Wood on Tuesday, February 17 before they embark on another trip the following Saturday to Richard Jolly's Carshalton Athletic. They see out the month with a home clash against relegation-threatened Margate.
"We are in the upper reaches of the table and have to look at it positively as well as realistically," said the manager.
"We need 12 points to avoid relegation and the sooner we get them we can start to look up at the top of the table and see what we can do there.
"I'll look at things at the end of February as we've got games this month that, if we are going to feature up there near the end of the season, are the sort you have to come away from with the majority of the points.
"If we can win these games we might be able to get out of this league. If we don't, then we don't deserve to be up there.
"I have a group of lads who want to do well collectively, who want to play together and make it work. We've given ourselves a chance and it is nice to hear the fans being more positive."
With heavy snow prompting many school closures at the start of the week Bartlett, a teacher, attended to his managerial duties while keeping a watchful eye on the last few hours of the January transfer window. A mega money deal for former Stones player Jermaine Beckford, however, failed to materialise and with it a handsome sell-on windfall for Stones.
"In an ideal world we need the finances if we are going to consider the next step",
Tuesday's Middlsex Senior Cup clash with Hampton and Richmond Borough fell victim to the weather while Saturday's match with AFC Hornchurch is also in doubt. And while the fixture backlog is giving Bartlett cause for concern, it is also allowing more time for several of his key players to return to full fitness.
Defenders Carl Martin and Darren Locke are on the comeback trail while midfielder Lee Chappell is expected to be out for at least another week after taking a hefty whack on an ankle against Tooting.
"Lee's ankle is twice the size it should be and he will be out for a few weeks," added the Stones manager.
Meanwhile, Stones' former Malta Under 21 international goalkeeper, Luke Woods, has joined BGB Premier League outfit Hitchin Town on a dual registration, meaning he is still eligible to play for Bartlett's side.
"I sympathise for Luke 100 per cent as we have two quality goalkeepers vying for one place," commented the manager. "To keep both Luke and Sean (Thomas) happy until the end of January has been a miracle, but Luke goes with my blessing.
"It is a dual registration and has been on the cards for a while as Hitchin's assistant manager is Luke's university lecturer, plus he lives down that way."
UP NEXT AFC Hornchurch
Where? Grosvenor Vale, Saturday, 3pm
Manager: Colin McBride
League record to date: P24 W11 D4 L9
Last five (most recent first): W, L, W, L, W
Last five away: L, L, D, W, D
Top scorer: Kris Lee (5)
Current league position: 8th
Last season: 4th
2007/08 season: Stones won 2-0 (H) and lost 1-0 (A)