HARROW Borough still have plenty of time to mount a promotion challenge, insists boss David Howell.
The Reds ended a disappointing week with their second defeat in succession - following up the FA Trophy loss to Wealdstone with a 2-1 reverse against 10-man Ashford Town.
Howell questioned the commitment of some of his players after five turned up late for the midweek cup tie and then saw his team fail to recover a 2-0 half-time deficit against Ashford on Saturday even though they had a one-man advantage for the final 20 minutes.
That made it one win and five defeats in seven matches in the Ryman Premier League and the west Londoners have dropped into the relegation zone.
But Howell is not ready to concede his team face a winter of struggles.
"I'm not too concerned about where we are at the moment because the gap to the top is very small at this stage and there's a lot of football to be played," he said.
"Apart from Dover last season, it's always been a completely unpredictable league where teams can go on runs of 15 to 20 matches unbeaten looking like world-beaters and then can't buy a win.
"The test in our league is always how you respond if you have a poor result or poor run and I believe we are capable of that."
Howell added: "We've definitely got players here who are dedicated, and it's only been a minority who have been a problem, but it has you tearing your hair out.
"To find the consistency we need, players have to look after themselves and make sure they get to training and games on time.
"I know that players have jobs and other time constraints and the traffic can be terrible when it rains, but the other day was the biggest game of the season so far and play-ers need to prioritise the football."
Howell could do with some of the stardust that seems to have been sprinkled on neighbours Wealdstone, but insists he is not jealous of their cup and league successes this season.
"There's no envy of Wealdstone," he said. "They have had a great cup draw and good luck to them. Hopefully everybody has their turn and it will come round to Harrow at some point.
"Their confidence is high and they will be feeling they could put out eight players at the moment and still win games, but this game has a funny way of levelling things out."