DICKIE ORD will consider anything less than a play-off place a failure this season after seeing his Durham City side prove they can compete with higher-grade opposition.
City were knocked out of the FA Trophy in midweek, but not before taking FC United of Manchester – who play in the Evo-Stik Premier League, one tier above Durham – to a replay and extra-time.
With the Citizens also out of the Durham Challenge Cup, Ord’s men will now concentrate all their energy on their First Division North league campaign which resumes this afternoon at promotion contenders Curzon Ashton.
Curzon are second in the table, two points behind Skelmersdale United but with three games in hand of the leaders, but Durham head to the Tameside Stadium on the back of a five-match winning streak in the league that has seen them climb to sixth place, with only goal difference keeping them out of the play-off spots.
And Ord believes that finishing in the top five is a realistic target.
“The lads have been brilliant this season in the cups and in the league, and we deserve to be where we are in the table,” said Ord.
“We go into today’s game having won our last five league matches and with a run like that behind us, we don’t need to fear anyone.
“I’m convinced we can finish in the play-offs - in fact, I’d see it as a failure if we don’t.
“It was disappointing to be knocked out of the two cup competitions but we still have the league to go for, and that is our number one priority.
“We gave FC United of Manchester two very tough games and their manager was very complimentary about our side after the match on Wednesday night.
“We know that Curzon Ashton and Skelmersdale are the two strongest sides in this division.
“But we showed on Wednesday night that we can compete with sides in the league above, never mind the best teams in our league.”