ACCRINGTON Stanley boss John Coleman insists the title still needs to be won with a third of the Conference season still to go.
The Reds are 11 points ahead of second placed Hereford and some bookies, among others, are talking like it is a foregone conclusion the Reds will make an emotional return to the Football League, 44 years after the club were forced to resign because of debts.
But, with 15 league games left, Coleman is keen to play down the publicity as, despite a stunning run of 13 league games unbeaten, he is aware anything can still happen.
This is especially as Stanley face two tough games in three days with a trip to bogey team Gravesend and Northfleet tonight (Fri) and a huge Sky televised clash with local rivals Morecambe at home on Monday.
"It is hard," admitted the boss. "But we certainly don't think it is won. There is still such a long way to go and we won't be taking anything for granted.
"We have so far handled the pressure well and you don't know whether we will continue to do that.
"But I can't worry about it, I have just got to try and keep the players' feet on the ground and hope they cope.
"Hereford have been on a run for quite a bit now, probably not so far behind ourselves. It must be disheartening for teams chasing us seeing that we keep winning and we have to try now and keep that gap so that when we play Hereford in March it is a must-win game for them. We can't afford to give any teams any hope."
Coleman knows it is a testing three days as the Reds have never yet beaten Gravesend in their five Conference clashes against Liam Daish's side with four draws and one defeat.
This season, though, Stanley have managed to exorcise a few of their demons and Coleman will be hoping to do the same to the play-off chasers.
"It is a big game for us, especially with us having a head start on rest of Conference by playing tonight," said the Reds boss. "It would be nice to win it but I am sure they will have other ideas as they are pushing for a play-off place so it should make for an entertaining game.
"I don't think they will sit in like other teams have done and we are at our best when teams come out.
"We got robbed last year there (with a last minute penalty decision) and if there is any justice, we will make that right.
"It was disappointing we didn't beat them at home either earlier this season but they have been going well."
And then it is the eagerly-awaited local derby against Morecambe which has the added spice of being live on Sky television and the Shrimps are desperate to boost their play-off hopes.
Stanley have been on television seven times since they returned to non league's top flight and have only lost once and they do seem to turn on the style for the cameras.
"I am glad it is on Sky as it seems to give the lads a lift and we always seem to do well on television," said Coleman, who is hoping for another bumper crowd after more than 2,000 turned up on Saturday for the 1-0 win over Dagenham.
"But, at the end of the day, it is just another three points although I would obviously like to win it as we lost at their place earlier in the season and I felt we were hard done by."
Stanley had to play most of the game with ten-men in September after left back Chris Butler was sent off in the third minute and only narrowly lost 3-2.
Since then the Reds have gone from strength to strength whereas Morecambe, under caretaker boss Sammy McIlroy, are having something of an inconsistent season.
The former Northern Ireland manager took over when Jim Harvey, Coleman's former boss at Christie Park, had a heart attack earlier in the season.
"It must be hard for Jim and he must be so frustrated with the enforced break," said Coleman, with Harvey now back behind the scenes at Morecambe.
"It's hard but it is the pressure of the job and you either live with it or do something else."
Coleman also comes up against one of his former players Ged Brannan, who has been playing a starring role for the Shrimps since he signed from Radcliffe Borough after leaving Stanley earlier in the season.
"Ged is a good player and if he had an opportunity for us earlier this season, he could still be here," admitted the boss.
Captain Peter Cavanagh is not likely to feature as he has a knee injury while long-term injury victim Andy Procter is getting stronger.
Midfielder Steve Jagielka is recovering well from his minor knee operation last week and expects to be back in a couple of weeks.
But the Reds have added Mark Boyd to their squad, a midfielder who was a trainee at Newcastle and has played at Port Vale, his home town team Carlisle and Gretna.
"He has been released from Gretna last month and has been training with us," said Coleman.
"He played against Burscough for us midweek and you could see he has something about him although he needs to get fit. He has signed on and will be added to the squad."
Stanley will be without right back Phil Edwards for the Morecambe game as he is suspended after five bookings.
Meanwhile, other Conference managers have been singing Stanley's praises and that has been music to Coleman's ears.
"I think some people had us down as a tough tackling, hard working team without flair but now I think they are seeing a team who do like to get the ball down and play."