Shaun Saunders feels Haywards Heath Town's 'togetherness' can help them take on anyone in the Bostik South East after Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Cray Wanderers cemented their place in the play-offs.
Champions-in-waiting Cray have dropped points in just eight games this season and 16 points separated the table-topping Wands and fifth-placed Heath.
A battling display saw the Blues take the lead twice before they were pegged back, but Saunders believes results like this means his side have every right to sit in the play-off places.
He said: “It was end-to-end and there were chances for both but the fact we can compete on that level is testament to how hard the players have worked this season.
“We’ve done really well against the sides in the top-five as it is. On our day we’re a tough team to beat and we can also beat anyone on our day."
The Hanbury Park-outfit sit comfortably in fifth with 56 points from 30 games, and have a nine-point lead over place-below Hythe Town.
All talk at the beginning of the season was whether or not the Blues could compete in their new surroundings but Heath have well and truly defied the odds as they occupy a play-off spot.
Saunders has attributed his side’s remarkable season to the tight-knit group at the club and believes this can be plainly seen in their outstanding first year in Step 4 of the non-league pyramid.
He said: “We’ve been playing with freedom and it’s been reflective in our results.
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“We were under pressure at the start of the season thinking it could be a long season.
“These must-win games are nervous games and they affect you.
“We’re now playing with freedom and players are able to express themselves and enjoy themselves.
“The changing room is fantastic at the moment. The togetherness is really good, we’re training really hard so all-in-all it’s been a fantastic season.
“It’ll go down as an unbelievable achievement from everybody at the club.”
Defender Cameron Tutt and forward Kenny Pogue made their debuts in Saturday's draw and Saunders was delighted with their performances in ‘a real baptism of fire’.
He added: “They slotted in like they’d been there all season. It’s definitely a tough game to make your debut in.
“It was very much ‘welcome to Haywards Heath’. It was a real baptism of fire and I think they coped really well.
“You can’t go to places like that and carry anyone. We were deserving of a well earned point.”