Glen Clarence says hard work and togetherness have helped his Heanor Town side defy expectations this season.
The Lions sit seventh in the Midland Football League, 13 points behind leaders Coleshill Town but with four games in hand.
Ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Westfields, manager Clarence lauded his youngsters for their early season success.
“It’s a very tough league, there are some big sides this year,” he said.
“But if we win our games in hand we would go one point behind Coleshill.
“On paper we weren’t expected to compete this year with a young squad, but they’ve done really well.
“They’re very hard working and very together.”
Saturday’s visitors Westfields are down in 12th but have as many as six games in hand on other clubs in the division.
Clarence is taking them seriously.
“It’s a tough game, another big one,” he said.
“They’ve been very, very good in the early part of the season traditionally and we’ve had to go there very early in the last two seasons and been tonked.
“But we’ve always done well against them at home.
“If we play like we have been playing we’ll give them a game.”
The first team boss hopes that his side’s form and the prospect of a hard-fought game will bring a few extra through the gates of the Town Ground this weekend.
Attendances have been a source of some frustration for him.
“If you look at the likes of Ilkeston, they’re getting 500 and 600 and we’re in the league above them now, so you can’t blame the level,” he said.
“We’ve got a decent fanbase but I would like it to be a bit bigger.
“The lads are all local and we want people to come and watch a bit more.”
Clarence will have Jamie Sleigh back in training this week after a seven-week absence due to a hernia operation.
Sleigh got six goals in six games at the start of the season and may be a surprise inclusion in Saturday’s squad.