CHIPPENHAM Town manager Mark Collier believes his side are very close to becoming the established side he wants them to be at National League South level, writes JONATHAN LEIGHFIELD.

The Bluebirds currently sit just five points off a play-off place with 13 games to go, and with a view to acheiving more consistent results at the forefront of Collier’s immediate plans, the Town boss knows chaining together wins will help his side reach their target.

The Chippenham manager has frequently discussed stability regarding his Bluebirds side and believes the most important objective for them to achieve it is to be competitive against every team they play.

Collier said: “This is our second season and people talked about ‘second-season syndrome’. We started our first season quite well and then we had a real downturn and then we picked up towards the end of the season.

“We’re certainly a lot more consistent this year – we’ve gone toe to toe with everyone in the division, we’ve been competitive in every game.

“We’ve beaten Torquay, we’ve done the double over Billericay and we’re becoming more established. That’s what we need to do.

“We need to firstly become an established football club in the division, then we need to be an established team in the division.

“At that point, we can attract different sorts of players and then try and move on and progress, which is the key to it all.”

Collier is anticipating a sizeable reaction from both sets of players on Saturday as his side take on Hemel Hempstead Town at Hardenhuish Park, having both suffered midweek defeats.

The Bluebirds lost 2-1 away at Welling United in their rearranged fixture, while Hemel were heavily beaten 5-0 at home to National League high-flyers Solihull Moors in the FA Trophy.

The Chippenham manager is expecting his players to respond positively to their midweek disappointment, but will be warning his side to watch out for a similar reaction from their visitors.

He said: “We’ve got a decent home record and we normally respond well to a defeat. Having said that, Hemel were absolutely smashed (on Tuesday) in the FA Trophy, so they’ll be looking to avenge that defeat on Saturday.

“It will be a difficult game against Hemel, it always is. They’ve got some good players with experience and as a club they’re where we want to be – a firmly established club at this level who are looking to push on each season.

“It’s one that we’re looking forward to and hopefully we can get some more points to help us get back to where we want to be, which is inside the top 10.”