DARREN Baker says Ball Haye Green must now be considered title contenders after Saturday's victory over Wolstanton United.
An Andy Teague strike and Jamie Pointon double gave Green a 3-0 lead with 15 minutes remaining before a late rally from United kept nerves jangling right up until the final whistle. But the Leek outfit survived the late onslaught to claim a 3-2 victory which takes unbeaten Green back to the Premier Division summit after nine games.
"It shows we can more than match the top teams in the league," insisted the Green manager. "We were outstanding. We competed well which you have to do against Wolstanton.
"I think we have to be considered title challengers now after beating Wolstanton. We are nine games in which is close to a third of the season. You have to say us, Hanley Town, Wolstanton and Abbey Hulton United... I think it's one from those four."
However, the Ball Haye boss has sounded out an early warning to his players. Baker added: "We need to keep our feet firmly on the ground. We have gone from being a bottom four or five team to a top four or five team in no time so we know how quickly things can turn around.
"We are not going to run around saying we are going to win the league or going to win the cups. After getting beat by Keele University a couple of weeks ago (in the Staffs FA Vase) we know how easily you can get beat if you don't turn up for games.
"Every game in the league is a big game now. We are still unbeaten so teams will want to be the first one to turn us over."