Tudors boss Dean Brennan is in a positive mood about his top-six Hemel Town side and thinks this might be the strongest squad he’s had since joining the club in 2010.
The 37-year-old’s side moved into the top-six of the National League South standings after Saturday’s 2-0 win over Oxford City at Vauxhall Road and they are just two points off the leaders Braintree Town.
Speaking with the Gazette on Tuesday, just a few hours before Hemel were due to host League Two Cambridge United’s reserves in a friendly, Brennan said the 2017/18 Tudors have an exciting mix of experience and skill.
There’s also strength in depth which means players returning from injury aren’t being rushed back onto the pitch too early.
He’s delighted with the recent signings of Spencer Mccall and Scotty Shulton, both of whom have impressed in their first two appearances.
“This is probably the strongest squad I’ve had and I’m just hoping that we can keep the side together,” Brennan said.
Last year the Tudors were enjoying a decent spell in the league which saw them edge towards the play-off places but star striker Jake Robinson was sold to big-money Billericay Town in March.
Brennan is hoping that this time around Hemel will be able to hold on to all of their assets and push on.
And despite being upbeat about their chances, he’s also keenly aware of how tightly-fought this league is.
“I know it’s a cliché but you have to take it one game at a time.
“Anyone can beat anyone in this league.
“Things can change in an instant in this business.”
“It’s so tight in the league this season. The top 12 will all think they have a chance for those play-off places.”
Indeed, just eight points separate the top dozen sides.
But after getting most of their players back from injury, two wins on the bounce and consecutive clean sheets, the Tudors are looking a formidable prospect.
They have conceded just once in their past three encounters – and that’s without impressive centre-back Tom Hamblin who is still around three weeks away from returning from injury.
Former Watford stalwart Lloyd Doyley stepped in on Saturday and looked solid at the back in what was his first full 90 minutes since April.
This Saturday’s tough test is an away trip to eighth-placed East Thurrock who are just a point adrift of the Tudors.
They boast one of the top-three goal scorers in the league in Sam Higgins (nine) and have a solid home record at Rookery Hill.
Hemel will be hoping for a repeat performance of last year’s visit to Essex, when they triumphed 3-2.
Brennan’s also hoping that the lop-sided penalty count might even itself out.
So far this season Hemel haven’t been awarded a single spot-kick in their favour while five have been given against them.
Another was controversially awarded against them in Saturday’s victory, when Oxford were given a lifeline back into the match in the second-half.
Fortunately, justice was done and Tudors’ stopper Laurie Walker kept it out.
“It was never a penalty and came at such a crucial time,” Brennan said.