Alton manager Kevin Adair was full of praise for his side after they returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory at home to Epsom & Ewell in the Combined Counties Premier Division South on Saturday.
The Brewers responded perfectly to their 6-1 defeat at Farnham Town in their previous match to get straight back to winning ways. Alton have now won six of their past seven games in all competitions – and have kept five clean sheets in the process.
The mist hung menacingly over Anstey Park Enclosure throughout the game, but the home side did more than enough in the second half to take the win.
There was not much goal threat at either end in the first half, but it was the visitors who shaded the possession and territory to bely their position in the league table.
Two goals in the first 20 minutes of the second half secured the points. Perry Coles slotted home from close range after a good move down the right-hand side on 62 minutes, and Pat Cox bulleted a header home from 12 yards on 65 minutes as the home side turned up the heat and dominated proceedings.
With the game looking secure Adair emptied his substitutes’ bench without disrupting the flow of the game and his side comfortably saw out the rest of the match.
“I had told the lads to put the Farnham result to the back of their minds,” said Adair.
“They’re in a different place to us at the top of the league, but even after that defeat we had still won five of our past six and kept four clean sheets.
“In the first half we were not at the levels we can be.
“Perhaps the players didn’t want to make a mistake after last week, but at half-time I said we need to play our game and be confident.
“Perhaps I should have said that more before the game.
“In the second half we were in complete control.
“The second goal was a really good header by Pat from Cam Miller’s cross.
“We were able to make five substitutions and got a couple more youngsters off the bench.
“We’ve got a couple of lads who are 34 or 35, a couple who are 27 or 28, and a group of talented youngsters.
“We’ve shown we will give youngsters a chance and that’s what we’ve got to do as a club. I’m not just thinking about this season – I’ve got to think about next season and the future and the youngsters will hopefully want to be part of that if they’re enjoying it.
“The experienced lads are really important as well to complement that.
“We’re well positioned in the top half of the table – we’re in a good place and are happy with where we are.
“We’re in December now and you can see the teams who are at the top of the table, the teams who are pushing for the play-offs, the teams who are struggling at the bottom and the teams who are in the middle.
“I personally think ten to 12 teams will think they can get in the top five.
“Step 5 is a fantastic level of football but it can be quite fickle. Teams who are at the top can attract players from lower teams, and teams who are lower down but have a chance of the play-offs might suddenly have a bigger budget and attract players. It makes for an exciting league.
“There’s also how postponements will affect the league – some clubs might have a lot of games to play at the end of the season. We’re lucky that we know all our home games will be played on our 3G.”
Alton were frustrated by the weather on Tuesday night when their trip to Hillingdon Borough in the second round of the Combined Counties Premier Challenge Cup was postponed following a pitch inspection.
Next up for the Brewers is a home game against Cobham in the Combined Counties Premier Division South on Saturday (3pm), and Adair wants his side to keep their positive momentum going.
“We need to keep believing in what we’re doing,” he said.
“We’ve got a front two who are causing teams problems. Most teams play with a midfield three now, but we always look to play to our strengths and the front two are proving to be very effective.”