BOSS Tom Killick has described as "a season-defining run" the fixtures Poole Town face over the next seven weeks as they seek to secure a top-five finish.

Dolphins start a gruelling period of 13 Southern League South games in 47 days against Swindon Supermarine at Black Gold Stadium tomorrow (7.45pm).

Progress in cup competitions – including the FA Trophy, FA Cup and Southern League Challenge Cup – has left Dolphins with games in hand on every team.

And with Poole out of those three knockout tournaments, Killick admitted his side needed to make up the ground in the league.

He told the Daily Echo: "We are behind on our league fixtures and we have an unbelievable Saturday-Tuesday run and then a mammoth catalogue of fixtures over Christmas.

"It is a season-defining run because we have to get ourselves in the play-off spots between now and the Christmas period when we have so many games.

"We have to really try to mount a serious challenge. The distraction of the cups has gone and we have to make this our sole focus. We have an opportunity to get the points we need."

Poole are still in the Dorset Senior Cup and host Swanage Town & Herston in a quarter-final tie next week.

However, Killick's immediate focus is on bridging the six-point gap to fifth-place Hendon, the boss admitting the Southern League South play-off race appeared remarkably open this season.

"There are some very strong teams – the likes of Salisbury, Weymouth and Taunton – but every week I am picking up the paper and there are unexpected results," he said.

"On Saturday, Hendon lost to Gosport Borough, which I did not expect, but fair play to Gosport. Last week Weymouth got beaten by Kings Langley. We lost to Hartley Wintney early on.

"We have got to try to be consistent and then, hopefully, we can get ourselves in the play-off positions.

"There is Salisbury, Weymouth and Taunton in the top three and that leaves teams like Merthyr and Hendon, along with a lot of other sides, fighting for those two remaining spots.

"We feel we are in a better place than a few weeks ago in terms of our squad and form. We have to believe we can do it."

Supermarine were promoted to Southern League South last season after defeating Wimborne Town in the play-off final.

While Lee Spalding's side have won just four of their 15 league games, Killick is predicting an improvement from the Wiltshire outfit.

"As a manager, you want to give people an opportunity to find their feet," he said.

"If it turns out certain players are not up to it, you gradually make changes as the season progresses.

"I often feel with promoted sides that there will be an improvement over the course of the season when they find which existing players can survive at the level."