DAVE Webb is galvanising his Swindon Supermarine players to be ready to mix it with one of the best in Division One West this weekend.
On Saturday, Marine roll out the red carpet for fallen giants Salisbury, the phoenix club formed two years ago after the demise of former National League Premier outfit Salisbury City, and the Webbswood Stadium has no illusions over the task facing his troops.
The Whites, who are led by former Portsmouth and Millwall player-manager Steve Claridge, may only be four points ahead of Webb’s men in fifth in the table but they remain solidly on an upward curve, having won 12 of their last 13 games in all competitions.
In eight days’ time, Marine travel to runaway leaders Hereford – another phoenix club – but ahead of their meeting with Salisbury, Webb hopes that his side are ready to savour a clash against their fellow Wiltshire promotion hopefuls.
“What happens in these games won’t determine our season – it’s the games after them – but they’re going to be like cup finals,” said the Marine manager.
“If we can pick up some points against teams that are trying to work their way back up the non-league pyramid and are intent on getting right to the very top, that would be great.
“Salisbury are a very good side, with an experienced manager and some very experienced players – they’ve just brought in another one in midweek by signing Brian Dutton from Eastbourne Borough.
“They probably found the step-up from the Wessex League, which is a vastly inferior league to ours, a little hard to get used to at first but now they’re winning a lot of games and will have ambitions of finishing in the play-offs, and then winning them.
“Although they’re a little further away than the Oxfordshire sides, it is a Wiltshire derby, so there’ll probably be a bit of bite in it but I just hope that my players are ready to make the chairman, the committee and everyone watching proud, and deliver the performance of a Supermarine team.”
Webb, who will be without suspended midfield duo Joe Shepherd and Sam Morris this weekend, also believes that Salisbury offer an example of where Marine should aspire to be as a football club themselves one day.
He said: “The infrastructure of the club has changed so much in the time I’ve been here – we’ve got a great playing surface, fantastic training facilities, new changing rooms and we’re having a new function room built.
“I spoke to the players recently about my ambitions and where I’d like to see the football club go, and hopefully they’ll be here to be a part of that.
“We put a new group of players together this year and they’ve been fantastic – we’re still in with a shot of making the play-offs.”