Jittery Spencer Day admits he still harbours concerns of being sucked into a relegation dogfight – but still had time for a customary joke with fans this week.
Day believes his Farnborough side still need – at the very least – four points to secure their Conference South status for next season after their recent run of form was halted by back-to-back defeats at home to Concord Rangers on Saturday (March 29) and then at FA Trophy finalists Gosport Borough on Tuesday night (April 1).
But the cheeky Boro chief still couldn’t resist play an April Fool’s prank on the club’s fans on Monday, releasing a statement to announce the club will be playing in all green kit next season to coincide with their Paddy Power sponsorship deal.
“It’s good to keep spirits up,” the Boro chief joked. “I thought it was quite a clever April Fool’s as it was perfectly feasible given the fact we very nearly started the season with Messi, Maradona, etc.
“It certainly fooled some people – in fact the BBC phoned me eight times!”
Sadly, however, the joke turned around on Day just over 24 hours later when his side put in another rousing away display at Gosport Borough on Tuesday – only to be undone by a combination of poor finishing at one end and a calamity goalkeeping error at the other.
Striker JJ Hooper was the guilty party in front of goal, wasting at least two glorious chances and having a third spectacularly saved by keeper Nathan Ashmore.
And the frustration was compounded on 61 minutes when on-loan keeper Ross Fitzsimons came roaring out of his goal to make a routine clearance but misjudged both the flight of the ball and the rock hard surface, and his air kick allowed Borough striker Justin Bennett to gobble up an open goal.
“The better team lost,” Day moaned. “We were totally dominant for long spells and it was only a fluke which gifted them the win. We had three one-on-ones and their keeper has made a fantastic save from JJ, but he knows that he should have scored from one of the chances.
“In recent weeks we’ve got what we’ve deserved, whether we win or lose. At Gosport we didn’t. It was a very, very good performance from us on an extremely difficult pitch and a massive improvement from Saturday.”
At the same time, results elsewhere heaped more misery on Day with his side now just eight points clear of the drop zone with many of the strugglers making their traditional April resurgence.
But while the Boro boss is trying to remain upbeat, he knows he will need to reach his four-point safety target as soon as possible, starting with three from the long trip to Weston-Super-Mare on Saturday and Tuesday night’s visit of Bishop’s Stortford.
“We need a few more points but it’s no time for panic,” Day warned. “We’ve got a tough run of games to come and long hard trips to Weston, Dorchester and Bath to make.
They won’t be easy, of course, but I’m massively encouraged by what I saw at Gosport on Tuesday night.”
One thing’s for sure, Day will want to get the points safely in the bag before captain Alan Inns begins a three-match suspension for his controversial straight red card in the 2-0 home reverse by Concord on Saturday.
Inns saw red for a 82nd-minute clash with Concord sub Steve King – a decision blasted as “ridiculous” by the boss and “disappointing” by the man himself. Thankfully, though, his ban doesn't start until the trip to Dorchester next Saturday (12).
Indeed, Inns’ red card compounded a miserable afternoon for Boro, who failed to mark the official opening of the PRE stand with a victory, instead slumping to their first defeat in six.
Lewis Taaffe tapped home from close range to give Concord a 12th-minute lead as Boro looked surprisingly lacklustre given their attempts to seek revenge for a 5-0 mauling by the Essex club in November.
Both Hooper, strike partner Connor French and substitute Dan Bennett went close as Boro piled forward in search of a leveller, only to be picked off 11 minutes from time when Gary Ogilvie finished expertly past Fitzsimons into the top corner of the net.
Day said: "We weren't at the races for the first 45 minutes. We're really struggling to pass the ball on our pitch at the moment. We know it's not pretty but we hope once the seed beds in it'll be more conducive to how we want to play."
Boro (v Gosport): Fitzsimons; Huggins (Berry 79), Treacher, Bosch, Inns, Siaw, Colmer, Ball, French (Bennett 74), Hooper, Lee (Page 79). Subs: Bamba, Fearn.