STALWART Sam Hardcastle believes Bournemouth’s hopes of avoiding the drop will still be alive even if they lose to Clifton tomorrow (2.30pm).
Lions, who ended their 15-match losing streak with a dramatic late fightback at Bishop’s Stortford last Saturday, hope to build on their rare success against the fourth-placed Bristol outfit.
Team-mate Wyn Roberts targeted victory in each of Bournemouth’s remaining five home matches in order to muster an unlikely survival bid.
But Hardcastle, the Chapel Gate club’s record points scorer, defiantly declared his faith in his colleagues’ ability to close the 15-point gap to safety, irrelevant of this weekend’s outcome.
He said: “The last thing we want to do is sit back against Clifton. We can’t let them come here and expect to win.
“Clifton are always a good side but if we don’t beat them, we’re not going to panic and we still have time. The relegation battle is not over at all.
"We have got eight games left now and in that run we have got both tough games and ones we think we can pick up maximum points from.
“Hopefully, we can do it. Finally getting that win was a good starting block for sure, and it has given us all a lot of belief.
"We’re just concentrating on ourselves. We are aware of what we did well last weekend but also where we can further improve.”
On last week’s win, Hardcastle added: “We knew it was coming and even though we have struggled, we didn’t expect to go the rest of the season without winning.
“It was a massive feeling of relief to finally get a victory, against a very good side in Bishop’s Stortford too. It was fantastic.
“We lost by two points to Canterbury at home the week before and a lot of the games had been close.
"To get over that final hurdle shows we can do it and, hopefully, we will do it more often. For me personally, I had not scored since October so it was nice to get over that try-line again.”
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