John Still is very much in the “I’d rather have points in the bag” camp when it comes to the games-in-hand-versus-points-on-the-board scenario.
Each season cup ties and cold weather and the subsequent rearrangements can leave clubs playing catch-up. The league table, slightly skewed by teams three games ahead or two matches behind, all of a sudden takes on added significance.
If you’re behind in the chase is it better to know you have the games in hand to make up the ground? Or – if you’ve played more games – is it better to have those points already knowing the pressure’s on your rivals to win their games in hand?
Think about it too much and you’ll begin arguing with yourself in a darkened room.
But it’s fair to say that kind of extreme anxiety won’t affect John Still, and the Town boss firmly believes it’s better to have the points on the board.
With fellow promotion chasers Cambridge, Kidderminster and Grimsby all in FA Cup action this weekend, the Town’s trip to Alfreton takes on added incentive for a Hatters side looking to extend their unbeaten league run to 14 matches.
And, furthermore, three points at the Impact Arena would hoist the Hatters to within one point of the league leaders…not that the boss is focusing too much on that…
“I don’t really look too closely at the points bit,” he said at Tuesday’s press conference. “But if we can keep taking advantage of someone who isn’t playing, it’s going to strengthen our position.
“At the end of January time, we want to be able to look at it seriously then and say ‘this is where we are and this is where we need to get’.
“Hopefully that’s not in too terrible a state.
“We’ve been 13 games unbeaten which has been remarkable and the lads have done fantastic.
“But it’s no good doing fantastic for a quarter, or a third, or a half, or three quarters of each game.”
The Town have never won in two Conference visits to the Impact Arena, and, including pre-season friendlies, have twice lost 3-0 – including the corresponding fixture last season.
And Nicky Law’s side are sure to make life tough for the Town – the Reds have won eight of their 10 game on home soil this season.
“I know Nicky very, very well, he’s a proper football person. I’m sure he’ll be ready for the game, he won’t leave anything to chance,” said Still.
“I get on really, really well with him, but he won’t like me Saturday and I probably won’t like him.
“It’s going to be tough, their home record is very good, but our away record is good too.
“We’re fully up to date with what they do and how they do it and the way they do it.
“We’re fully up to date with their strengths and weaknesses as I’m sure they are ours.”